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Investigations of Improper Activities by State Agencies and Employees
Misuse of State Time, Economically Wasteful Activities, and Misuse of State Property

Report Number: I2018-1


Investigative Highlights

State employees and agencies engaged in various improper governmental activities, including the following:

Results in Brief

The California Whistleblower Protection Act (Whistleblower Act) empowers the California State Auditor's Office (State Auditor) to investigate and report on improper governmental activities by agencies and employees of the State. Under the Whistleblower Act, an improper governmental activity includes any action by a state agency or employee related to state government that violates a law; is economically wasteful; or involves gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency.1

From July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, the State Auditor conducted investigative work on 1,481 cases. This report contains seven examples of investigations that substantiated improper governmental activities, including misuse of state time and inaccurate attendance records, economically wasteful activities, and misuse of government property. In addition, during the past year, the State Auditor issued nonpublic reports regarding nepotism, bad-faith hires, improper promotions, and other misconduct by executive management within two state entities. It provided these reports to those who could remediate the problems and ensure that the management teams involved did not retaliate against perceived whistleblowers.

California State University, Fresno

Two facilities operations employees at California State University, Fresno engaged in egregious and continued time and attendance abuse by taking extended breaks or leaving campus without accounting for their time. From 2013 through 2017, two employees failed to account for more than 5,100 hours of work, costing the State more than $111,000 in salary paid for work not performed. Furthermore, the employees were dishonest in their attempts to conceal their time and attendance abuse.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Kern Valley State Prison

For about two years, an employee at Kern Valley State Prison misused state time by regularly leaving work up to 45 minutes early as a result of inadequate supervision. We estimated that the employee failed to account for 312 hours of missed work time, costing the State nearly $9,000.

Department of Motor Vehicles

A key data operator at the Department of Motor Vehicles failed to perform her essential duties over a period of nearly four years because she slept at her desk for extended periods of time during work hours. From February 2014 through December 2017, the employee misused more than 2,200 hours of work time as a result of sleeping on the job, costing the State more than $40,000.

California Correctional Health Care Services

From May 2015 through July 2016, a director of nursing (nursing director) at a Southern California adult prison removed a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), who was her personal friend, from her assigned nursing position—or post—providing patient care and reassigned her to perform nurse scheduling duties typically performed by an office technician. During this period, the LVN continued to receive her pay as a nurse even though she provided patient care only when she worked occasional overtime shifts, causing California Correctional Health Care Services (Correctional Health Care) to waste $10,500 in unnecessary salary payments. Furthermore, the nursing director's decision cost the State an additional $18,700 in unnecessary overtime payments that Correctional Health Care paid to other nurses to cover the LVN's originally assigned post, resulting in total waste of nearly $30,000.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) overpaid a staff services analyst (analyst) at one of its prisons nearly $3,000 from July 2016 through March 2017. The analyst, her manager, an associate warden, and a personnel specialist all failed to follow CDCR procedure and the California Department of Human Resources' policy regarding inmate supervision pay, which resulted in the overpayments. In addition, the associate warden violated state law by choosing not to initiate any collection efforts after two internal audits in 2017 documented the error in pay and recommended the recovery of the overpayments.

California State University, Dominguez Hills

In March 2013, a manager at California State University, Dominguez Hills directed a member of his staff to purchase a Nissan-manufactured electric vehicle quick charger for nearly $7,000 before the manager had performed the due diligence necessary to ensure that the equipment was compatible with the energy resource plan for the campus. The quick charger has remained unused for five years, its warranty lapsed in 2014, and Nissan is no longer manufacturing replacement parts. As of February 2018, the campus told us it will be unable to install the quick charger before 2020 or 2021, if at all.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

A California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) assistant chief misused state resources when he violated his rental agreement by building an unauthorized structure on state property using on-duty staff under his command. In 2016 the assistant chief built a 16-foot-by-20-foot structure with plumbing, electrical, and sewer connections in the backyard of the state residence he rented from CAL FIRE without written approval from CAL FIRE to build the structure as his rental agreement required. He also did not have approval from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, which is responsible for inspecting state‑owned buildings.


1 For more information about the State Auditor's investigations program, please refer to the Appendix. Go back to text

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