Report I99-1 Summary - March 1999

Investigations of Improper Activities by State Employees:

July 1, 1998, Through January 31, 1999

RESULTS IN BRIEF

The Bureau of State Audits (bureau) administers the Reporting of Improper Governmental Activities Act (act) contained in the California Government Code, beginning in Section 8547. The act defines "improper governmental activity" as any action by a state agency or state 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. The bureau receives and investigates complaints of improper governmental activities. To enable state employees and the public to report these activities, the state auditor maintains the toll-free Whistleblower Hotline (hotline). The hotline number is (800) 952-5665.

This report details the results of the five investigations completed by the bureau and other agencies between July 1, 1998, and January 31, 1999, that substantiated complaints. Following are examples of the substantiated improper activities:

Department of General Services

  • An employee of the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) improperly accepted rounds of golf from the owner of a company that has worked on projects the State funded based on recommendations of OPSC staff. This created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

State Allocation Board

  • An employee created an appearance of a conflict of interest by being involved in decisions to fund projects that would involve the employer of his long-term companion.

Department of Industrial Relations

  • A mediator and other employees of the State Mediation and Conciliation Service Division (division) used the prestige of the State to obtain outside employment for the mediator and created the appearance of conflicts of interest.

  • The division referred the mediator as a possible arbitrator much more frequently than it did other individuals seeking work as arbitrators.

Department of Rehabilitation

A vocational rehabilitation counselor engaged in the following improper activities:

  • Improperly opened case files for his sister and her common-law partner who were living in his home and attempted to conceal from other department staff his relationship with the clients.

  • Improperly determined that his sister's partner was eligible for services and improperly approved payments to him, expecting to benefit from the payments.

  • Concealed the fact that another department client was renting property from him.

Office of the State Public Defender

  • An official inappropriately claimed, and the office improperly paid, reimbursement of more than $2,000 for the official's commuting expenses.

  • The official failed to report the value of his personal use of a state vehicle as taxable compensation.

Board of Court Reporters

  • The Board of Court Reporters does not discipline court reporters who charge rates higher than those permitted by law.

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

If, after investigating any allegations, the state auditor determines reasonable evidence exists of improper governmental activity, the bureau 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 state auditor of any corrective action taken, including disciplinary action, no later than 30 days after the date the state auditor transmits the confidential investigative report. If employers or appointing authorities do not complete the corrective actions within 30 days, they must report to the state auditor monthly until they do so.

Appendix A contains statistics on the complaints received by the bureau between July 1, 1998, and January 31, 1999, and summarizes our actions on those or other complaints pending as of July 1, 1998. It also provides information on the cost of 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.


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