Report I2009-0640 Summary - March 2013

California Department of Transportation:

Caltrans Employees Engaged in Inexcusable Neglect of Duty, Received Overpayment for Overtime, Falsified Test Data, and Misappropriated State Property

HIGHLIGHTS

Our investigation at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) substantiated the following:

  • A supervisor neglected his duty to supervise two technicians, which facilitated their being able to get paid for work they did not perform.
  • Two technicians improperly claimed overtime and differential pay for work not performed, costing the State an estimated $13,788 in overpayments.
  • Caltrans employees engaged in 11 incidents of data falsification—10 of the incidents involved one of the technicians, while the remaining incident involved an engineer who reviewed testing data collected by that technician.
  • Caltrans could not identify the engineer who falsified the data.
  • The supervisor improperly used Caltrans property by taking it to land that he owned with help from two technicians and other subordinate employees.

RESULTS IN BRIEF

Pursuant to the California Whistleblower Protection Act (Whistleblower Act, found at Government Code section 8547 et seq.), the California State Auditor (state auditor) presents this report concerning an investigation conducted at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The Whistleblower Act authorizes the state auditor to investigate and report on improper governmental activities by state agencies and employees. Under the Whistleblower Act, an improper governmental activity, as defined by Government Code section 8547.2, subdivision (c), includes any action by a state agency, or by a state employee in connection with his or her employment, that violates a state or federal law; violates an executive order of the Governor, a California Rule of Court, or a policy or procedure mandated by the State Administrative Manual or State Contracting Manual; is economically wasteful; or involves gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency.

This report concludes that a supervisor neglected his duty to supervise two transportation engineering technicians (technicians), which facilitated the technicians being paid for work they did not perform, at an estimated cost of $13,788 in overpayments. One of the technicians, as determined by Caltrans and two federal agencies, falsified concrete pile testing data for at least three transportation projects. A subsequent review by Caltrans identified eight additional incidents of data falsification. The supervisor also misappropriated Caltrans property with assistance from the technicians and other subordinate employees.


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