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Report Number: I2017-2

Investigations of Improper Activities by State Agencies and Employees
Inaccurate Attendance Records, Violation of State Laws, and Misuse of State Resources



Summary

INVESTIGATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

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

Results in Brief

The California Whistleblower Protection Act (Whistleblower Act) empowers the California State Auditor’s Office 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 six investigations with substantiated findings that the State Auditor either completed or directed other state agencies to complete on its behalf between January 1, 2017, and June 30, 2017. The following paragraphs briefly summarize the investigations. We discuss these investigations more fully in the individual chapters of this report.

Department of State Hospitals, Atascadero State Hospital

A psychiatric technician at the Department of State Hospitals (State Hospitals), Atascadero State Hospital, engaged in a pattern of attendance abuse when he failed to account for his absences on his timesheets. This conduct allowed him to receive $7,500 of improper overtime pay from July 2015 through June 2016. In addition, his supervisor and shift lead neglected to ensure the accuracy of the psychiatric technician’s attendance records, even though they should have been aware of and taken definitive steps to address his attendance abuse.

Department of Water Resources

Two managers at the Department of Water Resources (Water Resources) neglected to ensure the accuracy of the time and attendance records of an administrative supervisor from 2008 to 2016. As a result, the administrative supervisor failed to account for partial‑day absences as required by her classification as a nonexempt employee. Based on the limited data available, we calculated that the administrative supervisor undercharged her leave by as many as 149 hours for a six‑month period in 2016, at an estimated cost to the State of $5,200.

University of California, Davis

A professor with the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), wasted University of California (UC) funds when he improperly received travel and entertainment reimbursements totaling nearly $1,200 for three limousine trips and two additional travel expenses.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

In December 2016, staff in an administrative office within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) hosted an illegal raffle. In addition, the raffle included the unauthorized sale of alcoholic beverages.

Department of Industrial Relations

From April 2016 through May 2017, a supervisor at the Department of Industrial Relations (Industrial Relations) failed to keep a subordinate employee fully occupied during his work hours. The supervisor’s neglect of duty resulted in the employee frequently having hours of unproductive work time (downtime), some of which he spent on personal activities. We estimated that during the 14‑month period, the employee had 328 hours of downtime, for which the State paid him $5,400.

California Department of Social Services

An analyst at the California Department of Social Services (Social Services) misused state resources when she used her state email account to send or receive almost 400 personal emails from August 2015 through May 2016.

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.

Table 1
Issues, Financial Impact, and Status of Recommendations for Cases Described in This Report

CHAPTER DEPARTMENT ISSUE COST TO THE STATE AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2016* STATUS OF RECOMMENDATIONS
FULLY IMPLEMENTED PARTIALLY IMPLEMENTED PENDING
1 Atascadero State Hospital Failure to account for absences, improper overtime pay $7,540    
2 Water Resources Failure to keep accurate time and attendance records 5,176  
3 UC Davis Waste of university funds 1,193  
4 Corrections Illegal raffle, unauthorized sale of alcoholic beverages NA  
5 Industrial Relations Neglect of duty 5,411  
6 Social Services Misuse of state resources NA    

Source: California State Auditor's Office.

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

* In the individual chapters of this report, we explain the methods we used to estimate the costs to the State.






Footnotes

1 For more information about the State Auditor’s investigations program, please refer to the Appendix.
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