Report I2008-2 Summary - October 2008

Investigations of Improper Activities by State Employees:

January 2008 Through June 2008

HIGHLIGHTS

State employees and departments engaged in improper activities, including the following:

  • Working simultaneously at a state agency and a nonprofit and committing other time and attendance abuses at a cost to the State of $34,687. In addition, management failed to sufficiently supervise and respond to indications of the dual employment.
  • Improperly disbursing more than $108,000 in overtime pay that the employees were not entitled to receive.
  • Improperly paying $16,500 to employees for inmate supervision when the employees did not fulfill requirements.
  • Failing to promptly submit time sheets that accurately reported absences over a 23-month period, for which the employee was paid $23,300, and management's neglecting to ensure that absences were accurately reported and charged against leave balances.
  • Improperly paying $14,000 to two retired state employees for personal services.
  • Misusing a state-owned vehicle and the state-compensated time of two subordinates.
  • Misusing state time and resources to conceal private employment during regular work hours.

In response to previously reported investigations, state departments and agencies have acted in the following ways:

  • The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation canceled a lease with a private parking facility for 29 parking spaces that it did not need.
  • The Department of Justice continued to take corrective action regarding a manager and four subordinates who failed to properly account for their absences.
  • The Employment Development Department disciplined an employee by suspending him without pay for two days.

RESULTS IN BRIEF

The California Whistleblower Protection Act (Whistleblower Act) empowers the Bureau of State Audits (bureau) to investigate and report on improper governmental activities by agencies and employees of the State. Under the Whistleblower Act, an improper governmental activity is any action 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.

This report details the results of nine investigations completed by the bureau or undertaken jointly by the bureau and other state agencies between January 1, 2008, and June 30, 2008. The report also outlines the actions taken by state agencies in response to the investigations into improper governmental activities described here and in previous reports. The following paragraphs briefly summarize these investigations and the state agencies' actions, which this report's chapters discuss more fully. For more information about the bureau's investigations program, please refer to the Appendix.

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

A full-time employee with the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) worked simultaneously at the department and at a nonprofit organization (nonprofit) that was receiving grants from HCD. The dual employment violated state and HCD prohibitions against engaging in incompatible activities. We estimate that the employee's unauthorized absences from HCD while attempting to work at both jobs-as well as other time and attendance abuses that we identified-cost the State $34,687. In addition, in her efforts to conceal her employment with the nonprofit, the employee was dishonest with HCD on several occasions. Furthermore, the employee's managers at HCD did not sufficiently supervise her attendance and failed to respond appropriately to numerous indications that the employee was working simultaneously at the nonprofit.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION

From November 2005 through August 2006, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) improperly paid two physicians $108,072 in overtime compensation that the physicians were not entitled to receive.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION

Corrections improperly granted nine office technicians increased pay to supervise inmates at its R. J. Donovan Correctional Facility. The office technicians were not entitled to receive this increased pay because they did not supervise the required number of inmates or did not supervise inmates who worked the minimum number of hours required for the employees to receive the increased pay. Consequently, between January 1, 2005, and February 29, 2008, Corrections paid these office technicians a total of $16,530 more than they should have received.

CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

An employee at the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) failed to punctually submit time sheets that accurately reported her absences for the period from August 2006 through June 2008. In addition, the officials responsible for managing her daily activities or for monitoring her time and attendance failed to take sufficient actions to ensure that the employee accurately reported her absences and that staff properly charged the absences to her leave balances. Consequently, Cal/EPA did not charge the employee's leave balances for the 768 hours that she was absent from work, and it inappropriately paid her $23,320 for these hours.

STATE PERSONNEL BOARD

The State Personnel Board (personnel board) improperly paid a retired employee $8,999 for work that he performed after he had reached the maximum number of hours that he was allowed to work during a year. In addition, the personnel board failed to justify the amount paid to the retired employee or the $4,999 it paid to another individual for similar services.

DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

By regularly transporting her child to school in a state-owned vehicle, a manager with the Department of Fish and Game misused that vehicle. The manager also misused the state-compensated time of two subordinates by directing them to repair and build corrals for her private use at the state-owned property where she resides. The manager's improper use of state property and time resulted in a total estimated loss to the State of $1,962.

DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, CONTRACTORS STATE LICENSE BOARD

An employee with the Contractors State License Board (board), which is part of the Department of Consumer Affairs, used a state vehicle for personal purposes. In addition, the employee falsified board records to hide her actual activities when she was supposed to be performing field inspections. The State incurred a loss when it spent an estimated $1,896 on expenses related to her personal use of a state vehicle.

STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD

An employee of a regional water board, which operates under the supervision of the State Water Resources Control Board, used a state telephone to make 54 hours of personal long-distance telephone calls, which cost the State a total of $137.

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Two employees of the Department of Transportation used state computers inappropriately by operating them to conduct personal business.

UPDATE ON PREVIOUSLY REPORTED ISSUES

In April 2008 we reported that Corrections wasted $11,277 in state funds over a three-month period when it leased parking spaces that it did not need from a private parking facility and allowed state employees to park their personal vehicles free of charge in those spaces. In July 2008 Corrections informed us that in April 2008 it canceled its lease with the private parking facility.

We also reported that a manager and four subordinates at a regional office of the Department of Justice (Justice) failed to properly report on their time sheets an estimated 727 hours of leave taken from April 2006 through December 2006, amounting to $17,974 in compensation that was potentially unearned. In addition, the manager failed to adequately monitor his subordinates' absences or time worked. Moreover, the manager's supervisor, who worked at Justice's headquarters, failed to ensure that the manager completed his time sheets accurately and that the manager properly monitored his subordinates' time reporting. At the time of our report, Justice stated that it had taken several actions to ensure that the employees appropriately documented all leave and overtime and that they complied with state and Justice policies and procedures. Justice also continued to investigate the amount of unreported leave taken by the subjects in 2007. Subsequently, Justice completed its investigation and found that the manager and four subordinates continued to report their absences inaccurately in 2007, but it did not quantify the extent of the subjects' unreported absences. Justice continued to take corrective action and documented the manager's failure to follow its policies and procedures for time reporting and leave use. Following these actions, the manager left Justice in July 2008.

We further reported that an employee of the Employment Development Department (Employment Development) drank alcoholic beverages during work hours, and his drinking impeded his ability to perform his duties safely. Moreover, his supervisors had been aware of the situation for years. At the time of our report, Employment Development notified us that it had given the employee a corrective action memorandum to inform him that he was prohibited from working while intoxicated and from consuming alcohol during his work hours and unpaid lunch break. Employment Development also advised the employee that this matter could become the basis for disciplinary action. Subsequent to our report, Employment Development disciplined the employee by suspending him without pay for two workdays. The employee did not appeal the adverse action.

Table 1 displays the issues and the financial impact of the cases in this report, the dates we initially reported on the cases, and the current status of any corrective actions taken.

Table 1:
Issues, Financial Impact, and Corrective Action Status of Cases in This Report
ChapterDepartmentDate of Our Initial ReportIssueAmount as of June 30, 2008Status of Corrective Actions
New Cases
1Department of Housing and Community DevelopmentOctober 2008Incompatible activities, time and attendance abuse, dishonesty, and inadequate supervision$34,687Complete
2Department of Corrections and RehabilitationOctober 2008Improper overtime payments108,072Complete
3Department of Corrections and RehabilitationOctober 2008Improper payments for inmate supervision16,530Pending
4California Environmental Protection AgencyOctober 2008Failure to accurately report absences, inadequate supervision23,320Partial
5State Personnel BoardOctober 2008Improper contracting for personal services13,998Complete
6Department of Fish and GameOctober 2008Misuse of a state vehicle and employee time1,962Complete
7Department of Consumer Affairs and Contractors State License BoardOctober 2008Misuse of state resources, dishonesty1,896Partial
8State Water Resources Control BoardOctober 2008Misuse of state resources137Complete
9Department of TransportationOctober 2008Misuse of state computersNAComplete
Previously Reported Issues
10Department of Corrections and RehabilitationSeptember 2005Failure to account for employees' use of union leave507,541Partial
10Multiple state departments*March 2006Gift of state resources and mismanagement8,313,600Partial
10Department of Forestry and Fire ProtectionMarch 2006Improper overtime payments77,961Complete†
10Department of Parks and RecreationMarch 2007Misuse of state resources and failure to perform duties adequatelyNAPartial
10California State Polytechnic University, PomonaSeptember 2007Viewing inappropriate internet sites and misuse of state equipmentNAPartial
10Department of Corrections and RehabilitationApril 2008Mismanagement and misuse of state resources as well as waste of state funds11,277Complete
10Department of Social ServicesApril 2008Waste of state and federal funds14,714Complete
10Department of JusticeApril 2008Inefficiency created by entering into side letters with a bargaining unit without the Department of Personnel Administration's oversight or the Legislature's ratification2,370,839‡Complete
10Employment Development DepartmentApril 2008Management's failure to take appropriate action about an employee who drank alcoholic beverages while on dutyNAComplete
10Department of JusticeApril 2008Employees' disregard for time-reporting requirements and management's failure to ensure that employees reported absences properly17,974§Complete

Source: Bureau of State Audits.

NA = Not applicable because the situation did not involve a dollar amount or because the findings did not allow us to quantify the financial impact.

* This case focused on the Department of Fish and Game but also involved the California Highway Patrol, the California Conservation Corps, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Personnel Administration, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

† We have designated the status of corrective actions as complete because it is unlikely that this department can or will take further action.

‡ As we reported in April 2008, the $2,370,839 expenditure was not improper; however, the failure to disclose properly the side letters that led to the expenditure created an inefficiency in the State's bargaining process.

§ As we reported in April 2008, this amount represents compensation that employees may not have earned.


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