The California Department of Fish and Wildlife “wasted more than a half million dollars of state and federal funds when it purchased a custom-built boat in June 2017 that it cannot use for research surveys as it intended,” the state auditor wrote in a new report on the misuse of tax dollars by various state agencies.
“Weaknesses in Fish and Wildlife’s procurement process enabled this wasteful purchase,” the auditor stated. “In particular, it relied on a now-retired environmental program manager to write a technical scope of work for construction of the research boat. However, the program manager lacked the necessary skills and did not seek help from appropriate experts. In addition, the program manager did not inform Fish and Wildlife when he verbally agreed to significant changes to the contract that he should have documented. To compound matters, Fish and Wildlife’s regional manager approved final payment to the contractor for services and equipment that it did not receive.”
After the boat was paid for, the department discovered the boat could not be used as intended.
“As a result, the research boat has been largely unused for more than two years,” the auditor stated.
Other problems identified by the auditor:
Franchise Tax Board: An administrator at the FTB did not work her agreed-upon work hours, and “she was dishonest about the hours that she actually worked.” The administrator’s most recent supervisor “neglected his responsibility to ensure that the administrator properly accounted for her work hours.”
California Department of Veterans Affairs: A veterans home administrator “wasted nearly $38,000 in state funds by failing to ensure that veterans home staff followed state procedures to inspect a bedbug treatment oven … upon delivery.” The auditor added: “The equipment has been inoperable since its delivery in 2015 and has deteriorated because staff left it outdoors and unprotected from the elements for more than four years.”
Abuse of Bereavement Leave: From July 2016 through June 2018, seven employees at five state agencies (the Air Resources Board, Department of Transportation, Department of General Services, Department of Social Services, and the Employment Development Department) improperly claimed a total of more than 320 hours of bereavement leave with a value of almost $10,000. “In all seven instances, the supervisors for the employees failed to adequately review their timesheets to ensure that employees charged bereavement leave in accordance with permissible limits,” the auditor wrote.
California Energy Commission: For several years, a supervisor at the California Energy Commission violated state law when she improperly distributed commission-paid parking permits to up to seven of her staff members so that she and they could park their personal vehicles at the state’s expense, costing taxpayers an estimated $13,500.
California Department of Transportation: Two Caltrans employees failed to obtain valid vehicle home storage permits for their state-owned vehicles. They also improperly used these vehicles to commute between their homes and headquarters.
Department of State Hospitals: A psychiatrist at one of the hospitals in the Department of State Hospitals improperly used 46 hours of state-compensated continuing medical education leave to work at another job that conflicted with the psychiatrist’s regularly scheduled workdays at the state hospital. The psychiatrist’s misuse of this leave cost the state nearly $6,500. In addition, a psychiatric technician at one of the state hospitals reported working nearly 50 hours that the technician did not actually work during a one-year period, resulting in a cost to the state of approximately $1,500.
California Department of Public Health: Two employees of the California Department of Public Health arrived to work late, took extended breaks, and left work early without accounting for their missed work time. The auditor estimated that during a one-year period that was reviewed, the employees missed nearly 300 hours of work, costing the state more than $9,300 in salary paid for work that was not performed.
California Prison Industry Authority: Over a three-year period, three California Prison Industry Authority supervisors in one unit failed to ensure that the attendance records for a subordinate employee were accurate, even though they were aware that these records likely did not reflect the employee’s actual attendance. In addition, the employee was dishonest during an investigation, providing conflicting information about his attendance.
California Department of Social Services: The department failed to recover an overpayment to a former employee and failed to ensure that another employee used bereavement leave appropriately.