State Auditor Finds Costly Misuse of State Time and Property

A report from the state auditor found public university employees not working for multiple hours each day, an assistant chief using state resources to construct a tiki bar, and many other abuses of tax dollars.

Two groundskeepers at the California State University at Fresno “engaged in egregious and continued time and attendance abuse by taking extended breaks or leaving campus without accounting for their time,” the auditor said. As a result, the employees failed to perform their normal and reasonable duties and failed to account for 5,100 hours of work, costing the state more than $111,000 in salary paid for unperformed work.

One of the employees missed two to four hours each day by either driving off campus or by sitting in his vehicle or in campus buildings. Other employees observed him leaving campus during work hours and had to cover his mowing responsibilities. Whistleblowers told the auditor the behavior was continual over the past five years.

The other employee was witnessed leaving campus at least three hours daily, and one witness told the auditor the employee worked only about a day and a half during each five-day workweek. A timeline by the auditor estimated the employee worked approximately one hour a day.

Other findings in the audit:

  • A Kern Valley State Prison employee consistently left work early up to 45 minutes each day for a period of about two years, costing the State $8,850. Despite leaving early, the employee submitted timesheets in which he claimed to have worked the entire shift.

  • A director of nursing at a Southern California prison removed a licensed vocational nurse who was a personal friend from nursing-related duties and assigned the nurse to scheduling duties normally done by a lower-paid office technician. The nurse still received full pay even though she provided patient care only during random overtime shifts. The reassignment cost the Correctional Health Care Services $10,543 in unnecessary salary payments, plus $18,741 in unnecessary overtime payments to other nurses to cover the nurse’s originally assigned duties.

  • The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation overpaid a staff services analyst at one of its prisons nearly $3,000 from July 2016 to March 2017. Employees are eligible to receive extra pay for inmate supervision if the employee is an eligible position. The analyst was eligible to receive the supervision pay as an office technician, but the department began paying more after the employee was promoted to a position that was ineligible to receive the pay. Two internal audits found the error and recommended recovery of the overpayments, but the associate warden chose not to initiate any collections, a violation of state law.

  • In 2013, a manager at the California State University at Dominguez Hills directed a staffer to purchase an electric vehicle quick charger for $6,840, but it has not been used. In September 2017, the cost to install the charger was estimated at $100,000, which was deemed cost-prohibitive by the university.

  • The charger’s warranty expired in 2014 and as of February 2018, the campus did not have plans to install the charger.

  • A California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) assistant chief used state resources to construct a tiki bar in the backyard of a home he was renting from the state. In 2016, the assistant chief constructed a 16-by-20-foot structure with plumbing, electrical and sewer connections at the rented home. While the employee used personal funds for the materials to build the structure, he violated his rental agreement and state law by not receiving written approval for the project as required from the Office of the State Marshal, and he used other CalFire employees to build the tiki bar. The employee exposed CalFire to legal liability by constructing the unauthorized and unpermitted structure on state property, and by serving alcohol to numerous guests. The employee removed the structure in December 2017.

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