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Investigations of Improper Activities by State Agencies and Employees
Wasteful and Improper Travel Payments, Improper Promotion and Hiring Practices, and Misuse of State Resources

Report Number: I2019-3


Investigative Highlights . . .

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

Results in Brief

As authorized through the California Whistleblower Protection Act, the California State Auditor conducted investigative work from July 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018, on 808 allegations of improper governmental activity. In April of this year, we issued Investigative Report I2019‑2, which contained eight examples of investigations we concluded during that time period. The report we are now issuing contains six more examples of investigations that substantiated improper activities, including wasteful and improper travel payments, improper promotion and hiring practices, and misuse of state resources.

California Department of Transportation

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) improperly and wastefully paid a total of $41,695 for a manager to travel from her home in San Diego to Sacramento, the manager’s intended headquarters location. The manager gained approval for her improper travel by submitting her reimbursement claims for travel expenses to her former supervisor.

Department of State Hospitals

As a result of mismanagement, the Department of State Hospitals improperly designated an administrator’s headquarters. As a result, from mid‑November 2016 through January 2018, it wasted nearly $47,800 in excessive travel costs that it paid for the administrator to travel from the administrator’s residence to its Sacramento headquarters.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

In 2016 and 2017, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Fish and Wildlife) improperly promoted two senior management employees to positions as branch chiefs. In the first instance, the improperly appointed employee deliberately misrepresented his past supervisory experience and received $234,717 from the date of his improper appointment through December 2018. In the second instance, Fish and Wildlife circumvented the competitive process when it promoted an employee.

Department of Business Oversight

A manager at the Department of Business Oversight provided an employee with the majority of the interview questions for a vacant analyst position before the employee’s interview for that position. The employee’s eventual appointment to the analyst position was not valid because it was not made or accepted in good faith. The employee received $22,670 during her unlawful tenure as an analyst.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

From January 2016 through December 2018, a manager misused state vehicles for his personal commute from his residence to the correctional facility where he was headquartered, resulting in nearly 42,000 commute miles and an estimated cost to the State of $22,585. Additionally, we identified at least five other supervisors or managers in correctional facilities who routinely misused state vehicles for commuting purposes, for an estimated cost of nearly $58,000. In total, the misuse cost the State an estimated $80,000.

In a separate case, an administrator in the education program at Valley State Prison accessed thousands of YouTube videos unrelated to his work on his state‑issued computer during work hours.

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