State employees and agencies engaged in various improper governmental activities, including the following:
- A parole agent misused a state vehicle for her personal commute, stored the vehicle at her home without the required permit, and did not disclose her personal use of the vehicle as taxable income.
- An analyst misused an estimated 130 hours of state time from July 2015 to March 2016 by regularly taking excessive breaks and extended lunches to smoke during her workdays.
- Two tax technicians disclosed confidential information to unauthorized third parties and referred taxpayers to private businesses for tax preparation services.
- A pharmacist at a state hospital undercharged leave for absences and was overpaid for nearly 100 standby hours over an 18-month period.
- An adult correctional facility improperly paid a program chief more than $2,500 over six months for supervising inmate workers when she was not eligible to receive the additional pay.
- An employee in a professional job classification misused state time and resources by doing personal activities during workdays and by instructing support staff to assist her in these personal activities and allowing them to remain idle during work hours.
Results in Brief
The California Whistleblower Protection Act (Whistleblower Act) empowers the California State Auditor (State Auditor) 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 related to state government that violates a law; is economically wasteful; or involves gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency.1
This report details the results of 10 significant investigations that the State Auditor either completed or directed other state agencies to complete on its behalf between July 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016. The following paragraphs briefly summarize the investigations, which are discussed more fully in the individual chapters of this report.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
From January 2016 until July 2016, a parole agent with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) misused a state vehicle for her personal commute at a cost to the State of about $3,800. In addition, beginning in June 2015, the parole agent had improperly stored the vehicle at her home without the required home storage permit. Further, she failed to file required monthly reports disclosing her personal use of the vehicle, the value of which is taxable income. Finally, the parole agent’s current supervisor purposely did not request a home storage permit for her because he believes she would not qualify for one.
California Department of Transportation
An analyst at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) misused state time by regularly taking excessive breaks to smoke and extended lunches during her workdays, and she violated state law and a Caltrans directive regarding incompatible activities. We estimated that the analyst misused 130 hours of state time from July 2015 to March 2016 at a cost to the State of about $4,300.
Department of State Hospitals
From January 2014 through August 2015, a pharmacist at a state hospital failed to use sufficient leave for absences and was overpaid for 99 standby hours. In addition, pharmacy management neglected their duties to ensure the accuracy of the pharmacist’s time and attendance records, and personnel staff failed to identify the problems and made other errors in the records. The combined 99 hours of undercharged leave and overcompensated time represent a cost to the State of about $5,000.
State Board of Equalization
Two tax technicians at the State Board of Equalization (BOE) engaged in improper governmental activities when each referred taxpayers to private businesses for tax preparation services, disclosed confidential information to unauthorized third parties, and responded dishonestly to BOE investigators when questioned.
CDCR, California Institution for Women
The California Institution for Women, an adult correctional facility operated by CDCR, improperly paid a program chief a total of $2,520 from March 2015 through September 2015. The program chief received this overpayment via a monthly Institutional Worker Supervision Pay differential (extra pay) intended for those involved in the supervision of inmate workers. In addition, from December 2014 through February 2015, CDCR paid the program chief $1,080 in extra pay even though it did not maintain the initial approving paperwork on file to authorize these payments and keeping a record of this paperwork is a requirement for issuing the pay under CDCR’s procedures.
Department of Health Care Services
An employee in a professional job classification at the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) misused state time and resources by spending a significant portion of her workdays’ business hours doing personal activities, such as shopping online, sending and receiving personal emails, and visiting social media websites. In addition, the employee was dishonest about how often she misused state resources. Further, the employee misused state resources by instructing support staff to assist her in activities unrelated to work and by allowing them to remain idle during work hours.
In August 2014, a division chief at DHCS improperly created and maintained a do‑not‑hire list of candidates for jobs in her division. Division management used this list until at least May 2016, during which time division management had neither a clear, consistent understanding of what actions qualified a candidate to be placed on the list nor a well‑defined understanding of when in the hiring process they should use the list to exclude candidates. Thus, the division could not guarantee that it made hiring decisions based on candidates’ merit or that it did not exclude eligible candidates because of illegally discriminatory criteria.
San Diego State University
From June 2015 to June 2016, San Diego State University (San Diego State) erroneously paid a maintenance employee more than $2,100 for a 3 percent increase in his monthly salary to which he was not entitled. The error resulted from an inaccurate hire date in San Diego State’s human resources information system.
California Department of Social Services
A supervisor at the California Department of Social Services neglected her supervisory duties when she failed to engage in progressive discipline with an employee whom the supervisor knew was not satisfactorily performing her job responsibilities for many years. In addition, the supervisor was dishonest when she was interviewed during the investigation.
California State University, Fresno
A library employee at California State University, Fresno, misused university resources during a 13‑month period when he used his university computer to visit more than 48,000 webpages related to online videos and games unrelated to his work. He also misused university time when he used the computer for personal purposes, which could have cost the university as much as $22,200.
Table 1 summarizes the improper governmental activities that appear in this report, the financial impact of the activities, and the status of the entities’ implementations of our recommendations.
Issues, Financial Impact, and Status of Recommendations for Cases Described in This Report
Source: California State Auditor's analysis.
NA = Not applicable because the situation did not involve a dollar amount or because the finding did not allow us to quantify the financial impact.
* We estimated the costs to the State as noted in individual chapters of this report.
† This amount reflects the improper payments made in 2015. We also identified nearly $1,100 in extra pay for which the initial approving paperwork was not maintained. However, we did not include this additional amount in Table 1 because the lack of paperwork did not violate state law.