State Auditor Reports Wastefulness and “Inexcusable Neglect of Duty”

The headline of the October 17 report from the California State Auditor’s Office says it all: “California Department of Veterans Affairs: Wastefulness, Failure to Comply With State Contracting Requirements, and Inexcusable Neglect of Duty.”

The auditor investigated the department and found:

  • An administrator entered into a contract for the construction and operation, on the grounds of a veterans home, of an adventure park that did not comply with state contracting requirements related to the leasing of state property. The adventure park, featuring several large “zip lines,” entered the construction phase before being terminated. The auditor noted that “crews using bulldozers and other heavy equipment removed trees and eliminated vegetation in a heavily forested portion of the home’s grounds, which previously had been untouched by development, to create pathways” for zip lines and all-terrain vehicles.“ This occurred without an environmental impact report being prepared,” the auditor added.

  • It cost the state $228,612 to terminate the contract for the adventure park after the department’s top management learned about it and halted construction.

  • The same administrator needlessly paid $424,307 for a vendor to operate a cafe and a tavern at the veterans home, in violation of several contracting requirements related to leasing, when the cafe and tavern could have been operated by another entity at almost no cost.

  • The administrator’s former supervisor neglected his duty to oversee the administrator’s activities. The supervisor has retired from the department, but the audit report does not state whether the administrator remains a state employee.

(Source: California State Auditor Report I2011-0837, October 17.)

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