State employee furloughs in Oregon have not produced savings at prisons, according to The Oregonian.
An audit released Thursday by the Secretary of State Audits Division found that this was largely because a prison is a round-the-clock operation. The audit examined overtime and personnel costs at two prisons in Oregon.
Gary Blackmer, director of the audits division, said the furloughs did not cut costs because another employee had to be paid overtime to cover the vacated shift. The furloughs also caused difficulties for prison administrators who had to juggle employees.
Prisons differ from some other state operations because they require security staff 24 hours a day. So, with furloughs in place, prisons had to choose to either hire extra staff or pay overtime. The audit found that hiring extra staff to reduce overtime would not save much money.
The audit estimated that hiring a new correctional officer would cost about $61,000 a year, while paying experienced staff to cover that time would costs $59,000-$81,000.
The Oregon Department of Corrections told The Oregonian it agreed with most of the report.
The report looked at four years of payroll data.