Report I2000-2 Summary - August 2000

Investigations of Improper Activities by State Employees:

January Through June 2000

RESULTS IN BRIEF

The Bureau of State Audits (bureau), in accordance with the California Whistleblower Protection Act (act) contained in the California Government Code, beginning with Section 8547, receives and investigates complaints of improper governmental activities. The act defines "improper governmental activity" as any activity by a state agency or employee during the performance of official duties that violates any state or federal law or regulation; that is economically wasteful; or that involves gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency. To enable state employees and the public to report these activities, the bureau maintains the toll-free Whistleblower Hotline (hotline). The hotline number is (800) 952-5665.

If the bureau determines reasonable evidence exists of improper governmental activity, it confidentially reports the details of the activity to the head of the employing agency or the appropriate appointing authority. The employer or appointing authority is required to notify the bureau of any corrective action taken, including disciplinary action, no later than 30 days after transmittal of the confidential investigative report and monthly thereafter until the corrective action concludes.

This report details the results of the five investigations completed by the bureau and other state agencies between January 1 and June 30, 2000, that substantiated complaints. Following are examples of the substantiated improper activities:

BOARD OF CHIROPRACTIC EXAMINERS
An employee of the Board of Chiropractic Examiners engaged in the following improper activities:

  • Stole two new laptop computers that cost approximately $5,200.

  • Misused state vehicles at a cost of more than $2,000 to the State.

  • Sold surplus state computer equipment without authorization.

  • Failed to pay back a travel advance of $500.

CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON, SAN QUENTIN
While still working at the California State Prison, San Quentin (prison), an employee engaged in the following improper activities:

  • Made improper representations to other governmental entities when establishing a nonprofit organization (association) affiliated with the prison.

  • Used more than $1,300 of the association's funds for personal purposes and made other questionable expenditures from the association's account.

  • Failed to withhold payroll taxes and make payments to tax authorities for employees of the association's museum.

DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES
An investigator at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) engaged in the following improper activities:

  • Abused the prestige of his official position with the State by using DMV letterhead to communicate to a court his support of one party in a private lawsuit.

  • Used a state vehicle and state time to attend court proceedings on the private lawsuit.

PRISON INDUSTRY AUTHORITY
A manager at the Prison Industry Authority (PIA) engaged in the following improper contracting activities:

  • Allowed one company to work on a PIA project, at a cost of approximately $271,000, under the auspices of a second company's contract, because the first company was not a state-approved vendor.

  • Awarded two other PIA projects, totaling over $146,000, directly to the first company without following state-required procedures.

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
An official at the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) engaged in the following improper activities:

  • Circumvented state policy to obtain a larger, more fully equipped automobile than the one he was entitled to drive.

  • Spent more than $1,600 in state funds to purchase gifts for visitors to the Caltrans office.

  • Used $226 in state funds to purchase a small refrigerator for his office.
In addition, Caltrans improperly allowed an individual who was the subject of an ongoing internal investigation to sit on the panel that was selecting the new head of the unit conducting the investigation.

SUMMARIES AND APPENDICES

This report also summarizes actions taken by state entities as a result of investigations presented here or reported previously by the bureau.

Appendix A contains statistics on the complaints received by the bureau between January 1 and June 30, 2000, and summarizes our actions on those and other complaints pending as of December 31, 1999. It also provides information on the $12 million in improper activities substantiated since 1993 and the corrective actions taken as a result of our investigations.

Appendix B details the laws, regulations, and policies that govern the improper activities discussed in this report.

Appendix C provides information on actual or suspected acts of fraud, theft, or other irregularities identified by other state entities. Section 20060 of the State Administrative Manual requires state agencies to notify the bureau and the Department of Finance of such actual or suspected acts. It is our intention to inform the public of the State's awareness of such activities and to publicize the fact that agencies are taking action against wrongdoers and working to prevent improper activities.

See the index for an alphabetical listing of all agencies addressed in this report.


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