The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 25, 2011
Audit chronicles state employee abuse and bad management

whistleblower report 2.JPGThe Bureau of State Audits has just released its latest whistleblower report. Some highlights:

* -- An official appointed to a post at the Department of Mental Health claimed he was conducting state business in 2009 when he hobnobbed with celebrities in Southern California, planned fundraising galas and attended events such as golf tournaments, the Golden Globe Awards, a celebrity's funeral and a Julio Iglesias concert (see chart at left). Those activities, he said, allowed him to network with celebrities and enlist their support for Mental Health programs.

The auditor said the activities didn't benefit the state, but it did cost at least $51,244 in salary for the wasted time. The official used a state car, but the bureau couldn't figure out how much of the official's travel wasn't on state business, so it didn't estimate that cost.

* -- A state psychologist working for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation cost the department more than $212,000 in lost productivity when he used state equipment during state work time to conduct business for his private psychology practice over the course of five years.

The employee often left his state work early and spent about 30 percent of his time on the state's clock working on private practice matters on his state computer.

* -- A Department of Fish & Game management improperly approved the use of a state vehicle for commuting between home and work. The employee racked up 20,000 miles on the vehicle over the course of nine months, costing the state about $8,200.

* -- Today's report also follows up on a 2005 audit that found Corrections hadn't been reimbursed the $434,000 owed by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association for the wages and benefits paid three employees on union paid leave since 2003. The matter between state and the union remains unresolved. The bill now stands at $1.65 million for those three employees.

A footnote in the follow-up audit says that the total unpaid leave tab now stands at $4.9 million for those three employees and others who have been off their jobs to attend union business full time. That bill goes back to 2005. The union disputes both the amount of the bill and the state's decision to file a lawsuit to recover the money instead of taking the case to arbitration.

Click here for more about the union paid leave dispute between Corrections and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.
Investigations of Improper Activities by State Agencies and Employees

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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