State Employees Waste Huge Sums, State Auditor Finds

State employees have wasted hundreds of thousands of tax dollars by misreporting work hours, doing private work on state time, collecting improper reimbursements and more, the state auditor reported February 11.

The title of the report says it all: “Investigations of Improper Activities by State Agencies and Employees: Misuse of State Resources, Forgery, False Time Reporting, Financial Interests Disclosure Violations, and Waste of State Funds.”

Highlights of the auditor’s work:

  • During a one-year period, four psychiatrists at Patton State Hospital worked significantly fewer than 40 hours per week – the work period for which they were paid, under their collective bargaining agreement. The cost of their missed work hours totaled $296,800. In addition, two of the psychiatrists engaged in other employment during their regularly scheduled state work hours. “We also learned that psychiatrists and other staff at Patton may also regularly work less than an average of 40 hours per week,” the auditor wrote. “Although supervisors and executive management were generally aware of psychiatrists’ failure to work a weekly average of 40 hours, they did not act to resolve the situation.”

  • A supervising nurse who also served as a military reservist forged military documents and falsely claimed he performed reservist duties; as a result, he received compensation and benefits of $6,000 to which he was not entitled.

  • A psychiatrist violated the California Political Reform Act of 1974 by failing to disclose income of $29,800 that he received from a pharmaceutical company.

  • A state agency wasted state funds when it improperly reimbursed three employees $4,500 in excess of the allowed amount for training.“ These same issues also led its staff to questionably categorize training courses for another seven employees,” the auditor found. The agency “potentially could have saved $50,800 had its staff appropriately categorized courses for these seven employees and had the staff followed its policy of limiting certain training reimbursements to $2,000 per calendar year for each full-time employee.”

  • A state agency wasted $25,600 in state funds during a one-year period when it charged only eight hours of leave for 12 employees who missed nine-hour or 10-hour workdays.

  • A state agency failed to update an outdated policy related to rental vehicle use for state travel; as a result, another state agency inadvertently wasted state funds totaling $4,200 when it followed the outdated policy.

  • A supervisor at the California Department of Public Health misused state time from January 2015 through July 2015 by leaving for several hours during his shift almost every day without using leave and without management approval. The auditor estimated that the supervisor did not account for 234 hours of his work time, valued at $3,800.

  • From October 2013 through June 2014, an engineer at the Department of Industrial Relations submitted travel claims for more mileage than permitted by state law. The overcharges allowed him to collect $1,300 more than he was due for his travel reimbursements.

  • An employee of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received an improper reimbursement for $300 in expenses related to a two-day retirement planning seminar that he did not attend. The employee deceived his supervisor about his failure to attend the seminar, and submitted a falsified time sheet that showed his attendance.

  • An associate governmental program analyst at the California Department of Public Health misused her state computer and email to operate her residential rental business for at least five years.

The report is just a snapshot of waste, as it covers just a handful of investigations.

California Tax Foundation   |   1215 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814   |   916.441.0490   |