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Department of State Hospitals, Atascadero State Hospital: A Psychiatric Technician Failed to Account for His Absences
and Received Improper Overtime Pay
Department of Water Resources: An Administrative Supervisor and Two Managers Failed to Keep Accurate Time
and Attendance Records
University of California, Davis: A Professor Wasted University Funds on Improper Limousine Trips and AdditionalExpenses
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Staff in an Administrative Office Held an Illegal Raffle
and Illegally Sold Alcoholic Beverages
Department of Industrial Relations: A Supervisor Neglected Her Duty When She Failed to Manage an Employee Who
Had an Insufficient Workload
California Department of Social Services: An Analyst Misused State Resources for Personal Reasons
DEPARTMENT OF STATE HOSPITALS, ATASCADERO STATE HOSPITAL:
A PSYCHIATRIC TECHNICIAN FAILED TO ACCOUNT FOR HIS ABSENCES AND RECEIVED IMPROPER OVERTIME PAY
About the Department
State Hospitals employs more than 2,800 psychiatric technicians who provide a basic level of general behavioral and psychiatric nursing care for patients. It oversees five hospitals and serves mentally ill patients whom criminal or civil court judges commit for treatment.
California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 599.665, requires state agencies to keep complete and accurate time and attendance records for all of their employees.
Government Code section 19838 provides that when the State determines that it has made an overpayment to an employee, it must notify the employee of the overpayment and allow the employee to respond before commencing recoupment actions. It also requires the State to initiate such actions within three years from the date of overpayment.
The various causes for disciplining state employees are found in Government Code section 19572.
Results in Brief
A psychiatric technician at Atascadero State Hospital engaged in a pattern of attendance abuse—regularly arriving late, leaving early, and taking long lunches—without accounting for his absences on his timesheets. This conduct allowed him to receive $7,540 in improper overtime pay from July 2015 through June 2016. The psychiatric technician’s supervisor and shift lead neglected their duties when they failed to ensure the accuracy of his attendance records. They should have been aware of the problem and taken definitive steps to address it.
State law requires that state agencies keep accurate records of their employees’ attendance. In support of this responsibility, State Hospitals has established policies and procedures requiring its employees to complete monthly timesheets. State Hospitals also requires its clinical staff, such as nurses and psychiatric technicians, to accurately record their arrival and departure times on sign‑in sheets within their assigned units of the hospital. When unit supervisors approve timesheets, they must verify that employees’ hours match those on the sign‑in sheets. The supervisors rely on shift leads to help ensure the accuracy of the sign‑in sheets.
State Hospitals has two types of electronic data that come from sources unrelated to timekeeping and yet provide useful records of employees’ daily whereabouts. Specifically, State Hospitals uses a Personal Duress Alarm System that requires employees to wear an alarm device they can activate during emergencies. The system tracks employees’ physical locations on the hospital campuses. Also, before entering and exiting each hospital’s secured areas, employees must scan their ID badges. Because patient care units—where psychiatric technicians spend the vast majority of their work hours—are located within the secured areas, the ID badge scan data provide valuable information about employees’ arrival and departure times.
In response to an allegation we received that employees at State Hospitals were improperly receiving overtime pay, we initiated an investigation.
A Psychiatric Technician Did Not Account for Days on Which He Arrived Late, Left Early, and Took Long Lunches, Which Resulted in His Receipt of $7,540 in Improper Overtime Pay
From July 2015 through June 2016, a psychiatric technician engaged in a pattern of time and attendance abuse by regularly arriving late, leaving early, and taking long lunches. The records we obtained show that his late arrivals and early departures ranged from 10 minutes to more than an hour. He also frequently took lunches that exceeded his allotted lunch break by 10 to 40 minutes.
When the employee recorded his arrival and departure times on sign‑in sheets in the hospital units where he worked and when he completed his timesheets, he failed to account for his absences. The psychiatric technician signed up for many hours of voluntary overtime, often working five to six extra shifts per week, and his time abuse occurred in both his regular and overtime shifts. On the sign‑in sheets and timesheets we reviewed, the psychiatric technician almost always indicated that he had worked his full shifts, regularly claiming to have worked 15.5 hours per day. However, as Figure 1 illustrates, the data we reviewed indicate that he had unrecorded absences on 58 percent of his workdays during the one‑year period. On those 195 days, his absences totaled 159 hours, or an average of 49 minutes per day.
As Figure 1 shows, these unrecorded absences resulted in the psychiatric technician receiving $7,540 in improper overtime pay. Although the psychiatric technician’s time and attendance abuse occurred during both his regular and overtime shifts, his overtime pay was based on the number of work hours he claimed on his timesheets that exceeded the standard 40‑hour workweek, and the hours he actually worked always greatly exceeded that threshold. Therefore, had he accounted for his absences, his overtime hours and pay would have been reduced by 159 hours and $7,540, respectively.
The Psychiatric Technician’s Unrecorded Absences Allowed Him to Receive $7,540 in Improper Overtime Pay
When interviewed, the psychiatric technician was unable to justify his attendance issues and ultimately acknowledged he had not accounted for his absences. He admitted that he sometimes arrived late but blamed it on delays he encountered while passing through the security gates. Nevertheless, both he and his shift lead agreed that State Hospitals requires that employees allow enough time to pass through the security gates so that they can arrive at their work locations at the start of their shifts. The psychiatric technician also said that his shift lead was always aware of instances when he left early even though he was not sure if his shift lead approved of those instances. When presented with the hospital’s data showing his absences, the psychiatric technician did not refute the data and stated that he had no reason to believe they were inaccurate. When comparing the data to the hours he claimed on his timesheets, he recognized that he did not work enough hours on some days to account for the hours he claimed to have worked.
The shift lead and supervisor should have been aware of the psychiatric technician’s attendance problems and promptly addressed them. The shift lead initially stated that he was not aware of any attendance problems and that the psychiatric technician was an exemplary employee. However, the shift lead later acknowledged that he had noted the psychiatric technician taking long lunches and had spoken to him about the issue. The shift lead ultimately took responsibility for not properly monitoring the psychiatric technician’s attendance and acknowledged that he did not always ensure the times on sign‑in sheets were accurate. The psychiatric technician’s supervisor said that he was unaware of the time abuse and that he relied heavily on shift leads to monitor his subordinates’ attendance and to ensure the accuracy of the sign‑in sheets. After we presented the evidence we discuss above, both the shift lead and the supervisor agreed that the psychiatric technician’s attendance behavior was not acceptable.
To remedy the improper governmental activities described in this report and to prevent them from recurring, State Hospitals should do the following:
- Take appropriate disciplinary action against the psychiatric technician.
- Take steps to recoup the $7,540 of overtime pay from the psychiatric technician.
- Take appropriate corrective actions to address the failures of the shift lead and the supervisor and to ensure they fulfill their responsibilities for recognizing and addressing attendance abuse.
State Hospitals reported in August 2017 that it agrees with our findings and will implement the recommendations. State Hospitals stated that its executive team will consult with its legal, labor relations, and human resources departments regarding the appropriate actions to take against the psychiatric technician, shift lead, and supervisor. It will discuss with these departments the steps necessary to recover the improper overtime pay the psychiatric technician received.
DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES:
AN ADMINISTRATIVE SUPERVISOR AND TWO MANAGERS FAILED TO KEEP ACCURATE TIME AND ATTENDANCE RECORDS
About the Department
Water Resources protects, conserves, develops, and manages much of California’s water supply including the State Water Project, which provides water for 25 million residents, farms, and businesses. In addition, it works to prevent and respond to floods, droughts, and catastrophic events that threaten public safety, water resources and management systems, the environment, and property.
California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 599.665, requires state agencies to keep complete and accurate time and attendance records for all of their employees.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 codified in title 29 of the United States Code, section 201 et seq., establishes overtime pay, record keeping, and other labor standards affecting workers in the private and public sector. The wage and overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 apply to most, but not all, state employees.
Results in Brief
From 2008 to 2016, two managers at Water Resources neglected their duties when they failed to ensure the accuracy of the time and attendance records of an administrative supervisor. As a result, the administrative supervisor—a nonexempt employee—did not account for her partial‑day absences by logging those hours as either vacation or another category of leave, as her classification required. Based on the limited data available, we calculated that the administrative supervisor undercharged her leave by as many as 149 hours over a six‑month period, at an estimated cost to the State of $5,176.
The manner in which state employees are required to charge time for absences from work is dependent on whether they are exempt or nonexempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). The job duties and pay of a position determine an employee’s status as exempt or nonexempt. State employees who are exempt typically have flexibility in their work hours and do not have to use vacation hours or other types of leave for partial‑day absences, but they also are not entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Nonexempt employees must account for every hour worked, must use vacation or another type of leave for absences of any duration, and earn overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.
In response to an allegation we received that an administrative supervisor in a nonexempt position was failing to account for her partial‑day absences as required, we initiated an investigation and requested the assistance of Water Resources to conduct the investigation.
Two Managers Failed to Ensure the Accuracy of the Administrative Supervisor’s Time and Attendance Records
The administrative supervisor’s position required her to fully account for all partial‑day absences; however, she believed that she was exempt from FLSA timekeeping rules and was not required to charge leave for less than a full eight‑hour absence. The administrative supervisor told investigators that she had not charged leave for partial‑day absences since her hire date in April 2008 because her initial manager had directed her not to, and after that manager retired in 2016, her current manager gave her the same instructions. When interviewed, the current manager was surprised to learn that the administrative supervisor was nonexempt and should have been charging leave for partial‑day absences. In addition, an email from the current manager to the administrative supervisor illustrates that he gave inaccurate instructions to her about how to account for her absences. Although Water Resources did not interview the former manager, witness statements support the administrative supervisor’s account that the manager had provided inaccurate guidance to her.
Likely due to the unwarranted flexibility these managers provided to her, the administrative supervisor engaged in a pattern of working fewer than 40 hours a week and only accounting for full‑day absences. Specifically, the administrative supervisor stated in an interview that she sometimes worked partial days, either because she arrived after 8 a.m. or left before 5 p.m. In addition, witnesses corroborated the administrative supervisor’s lack of full‑day attendance. One witness estimated that the administrative supervisor typically worked partial days as often as three times a week. Other witnesses stated that the administrative supervisor was regularly unavailable to staff because she was out of the office so often. Evidence suggests that her low attendance also led to the administrative supervisor neglecting her duties, including failing to respond to requests for information from other Water Resources divisions in a timely manner. The issues became so prevalent that before our investigation, the division chief personally directed the administrative supervisor’s managers to ensure that she was being held accountable for her time worked.
Although Water Resources was unable to definitively quantify the administrative supervisor’s partial absences, we estimated the number of hours the administrative supervisor undercharged her vacation or other leave categories based on information a witness provided to us after tracking the administrative supervisor’s attendance for a six‑month period in 2016. Specifically, we compared the witness’s records with the administrative supervisor’s official attendance record for this period and found that the administrative supervisor’s timesheets should have accounted for an additional 149 hours of leave, costing the State an estimated $5,176. However, based on the administrative supervisor’s pattern of attendance and her failure to charge leave for partial‑day absences during her nearly eight years of state employment, the actual cost to the State was likely much greater.
Although the administrative supervisor had a duty to accurately record the number of hours she worked daily, her managers were responsible for providing proper guidance and ensuring the accuracy of her timesheets. Their assumptions that the administrative supervisor was exempt from FLSA timekeeping rules were negligent and resulted in a significant cost to the State.
To remedy the effects of the improper governmental activity substantiated in this report and to prevent it from recurring, Water Resources should take the following actions:
- Ensure the supervisor starts accounting for partial‑day absences in accordance with her classification as a nonexempt employee.
- Ensure Water Resources management is knowledgeable about individual staff classifications and their time‑reporting requirements.
In August 2017, Water Resources reported that it generally agreed with the findings of our investigation. However, Water Resources stated that we lacked evidence for our assertion that the potential cost to the State could be much greater than the $5,176 we reported. We calculated the loss to the State based on a six‑month period for which records were available. In stating that the loss to the State could be higher, we noted that the administrative supervisor and witnesses all indicated that the administrative supervisor frequently worked partial days from 2008 to 2016 and did not account for these absences. Therefore, the total cost to the State for the administrative supervisor’s failure to account for partial‑day absences is likely much greater than the amount we calculated for the six‑month period.
Water Resources also reported that it took action to implement our recommendations. Specifically, it directed the administrative supervisor to begin accounting for her partial‑day absences and informed her managers of this requirement. In addition, it reiterated work expectations to the administrative supervisor and will monitor her performance. Finally, Water Resources reported that it will inform all managers and supervisors that all nonexempt employees must charge time for their partial‑day absences and will include this requirement in its managers’ and supervisors’ training.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS:
A PROFESSOR WASTED UNIVERSITY FUNDS ON IMPROPER LIMOUSINE TRIPS AND ADDITIONAL EXPENSES
About the University
UC Davis is one of 10 UC campuses. Its Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has several research laboratories that receive donations from domestic and foreign organizations.
Government Code section 8547.2, subdivision (c), states that any activity by a state agency or employee that is economically wasteful is an improper governmental activity.
UC travel policy requires that all employees traveling on official business must observe normally accepted standards of propriety in the type and manner of expenses they incur. In addition, the policy states that UC will reimburse only the most economical mode of transportation.
Results in Brief
A professor with UC Davis wasted UC funds when he improperly received travel and entertainment reimbursements for three limousine trips totaling $996 and two additional travel expenses totaling $197.
As an employee of the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the professor is subject to UC’s travel and entertainment policies. He is involved in education and research activities, and he frequently travels internationally to attend technical conferences and research collaboration meetings with representatives of private industry. As a result of the professor’s efforts, UC Davis receives donations that are specifically earmarked to support his education and research activities. However, the professor still is required to abide by UC travel and entertainment policies.
In response to an allegation we received that the professor improperly received reimbursements for travel and entertainment expenses, we initiated an investigation and requested the assistance of UC Davis to conduct the investigation.
The Professor Improperly Requested and Received Reimbursements for Limousine Services and Two Other Inappropriate Expenses
The UC Davis investigators determined that on three separate occasions in April and May 2015, the professor used limousine services as a mode of transportation. As justification for his reimbursement claims, the professor stated that he used each limousine trip to discuss business matters with visitors from outside organizations. However, when UC Davis investigators reviewed the reimbursement claims for the limousine trips and requested further justification from the professor, he was unable to provide documentation or other evidence supporting his previous justification. Instead, the professor admitted he should have used his own vehicle. In April 2017, following the investigation, he voluntarily repaid UC Davis $996 for the three limousine trips.
In the process of aiding in the investigation concerning the limousine charges, UC Davis found two additional travel expense claims that it had erroneously processed and reimbursed to the professor in 2014 and 2015. These expenses totaled $197. One claim did not qualify for reimbursement under UC travel policy, and the other exceeded the allowable reimbursement limit. After learning about the errors, the professor also reimbursed UC Davis for these expenses. In response to these expense claim errors, UC Davis provided training to the professor’s staff, who regularly assist him in processing travel and entertainment reimbursement requests.
To address the improper travel expenses identified in this investigation and to prevent similar activities from occurring, UC Davis should require the professor to undergo travel reimbursement training that should focus specifically on appropriate and allowable expenses.
In August 2017, UC Davis stated that it agreed with our findings and that it intended to implement our recommendation. Specifically, it plans to provide travel reimbursement training to the professor and will provide proof of the training upon completion.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION:
STAFF IN AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE HELD AN ILLEGAL RAFFLE AND ILLEGALLY SOLD ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
About the Department
Corrections has many administrative offices throughout the State supporting the 35 adult correctional facilities it manages. Corrections’ mission is to enhance public safety through the safe and secure incarceration of offenders.
Penal Code section 319 defines a raffle as a scheme for the distribution of property by chance among persons who exchange anything of value for the chance of obtaining such property, regardless of what the scheme is called.
Business and Professions Code section 23300 states that no person is permitted to exercise the privilege that a licensee may exercise under the authority of a liquor license unless that person or entity is duly licensed.
Results in Brief
In December 2016, staff in an administrative office within Corrections hosted an illegal raffle. As part of the raffle, it illegally sold alcoholic beverages.
The practice of hosting holiday raffles is common in the workplace; however, California’s Constitution strictly prohibits unauthorized raffles, regardless of what they are called. In limited circumstances, state law allows tax‑exempt, nonprofit organizations to hold raffles, but only with preapproval from the California Department of Justice (Justice). Conducting an illegal raffle, even at an office holiday party, is impermissible.
A raffle is a form of lottery, in which the elements of a prize, consideration, and chance are present. Under state law, a raffle is illegal if held by an unauthorized group and meets three elements:
A prize —anything of perceived value, such as money, property, or a trip.
Consideration —commonly thought of as payment. For example, paying money to purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win a prize is consideration.
The distribution of a prize by chance —the random selection of winners and prizes. A raffle includes distribution by chance because the winning ticket is blindly pulled from the ticket pool. On the other hand, a silent auction does not involve distribution by chance because participants place bids on specific prizes and the prizes go to the highest bidders.
Additionally, California law prohibits the unauthorized sale of alcohol. If the ownership of alcohol transfers from one party to another in exchange for any kind of consideration, including buying a raffle ticket for a chance to win it, that transfer meets the legal definition of a sale. Only entities properly licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control are permitted to sell alcohol.
In response to an allegation we received that an office within Corrections had raffled off alcohol at a holiday party, we initiated an investigation.
Staff in One of Corrections’ Administrative Offices Violated Two Separate State Laws When They Held a Raffle and Offered Alcoholic Beverages as Prizes
In December 2016, the staff in an administrative office within Corrections held a raffle at the office’s annual holiday party. The raffle prizes consisted of six baskets, four of which contained either hard alcohol or beer. Figure 2 shows the six baskets sold in the raffle, and Figure 3 presents examples of the alcoholic beverages included in the raffle prizes. One basket also included 50 cartridges of ammunition, the selling of which required no special license at the time of the raffle. Starting in 2018, however, selling ammunition will require a license from Justice.
Baskets Sold at Corrections’ Holiday Raffle
Examples of Alcoholic Beverages Included in the Holiday Raffle Prizes
Staff in the administrative office sold raffle tickets at a cost of about $1 per ticket and awarded all six baskets to winning ticket holders. The raffle ultimately raised $571 from ticket sales, which Corrections subsequently donated to a local charity. However, the California Constitution’s limited exception to the ban on raffles only permits nonprofit, tax‑exempt charities that are preauthorized by Justice to conduct this type of raffle. Even though Corrections donated the proceeds of the raffle to a charity, the raffle was still illegal.
According to the employees we interviewed who were responsible for organizing holiday parties, the office has held raffles each December for at least the past seven years. Employees from the office volunteer annually to serve on the holiday party committee, which decides the location of the holiday party, the food that will be served, and the employee activities that will be included. According to the former committee chair, the holiday party committee makes all the decisions related to the party. The employees we spoke to were not aware of any Corrections policy or guideline addressing inappropriate holiday party activities.
To prevent these improper governmental activities from recurring, Corrections should issue a memo to all staff no later than November 2017, and annually thereafter, regarding the prohibition of raffles and the unauthorized sale of alcohol and ammunition.
In August 2017, Corrections stated that it agreed with our findings related to the illegal raffle and that it intended to educate its staff regarding the problems associated with holding the type of raffle discussed in this report. It plans to issue guidance to employees by November 2017 about the appropriate ways to hold workplace events involving prizes, donations, or fundraising.
However, Corrections did not agree that an illegal sale of alcohol occurred. Corrections asserted that a true sale, as a matter of law, would not include an element of chance. We disagree with Corrections’ assertion and reaffirm that Business and Professions Code section 23025 specifies that a sale of alcohol occurs every time the ownership of alcohol transfers from one party to another for any consideration. Since participants purchased tickets to participate in the raffle, consideration was given that resulted in the illegal sale of alcohol each time the alcohol transferred ownership to the respective winner.
DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS:
A SUPERVISOR NEGLECTED HER DUTY WHEN SHE FAILED TO MANAGE AN EMPLOYEE WHO HAD AN INSUFFICIENT WORKLOAD
About the Department
Industrial Relations strives to improve working conditions for California’s wage earners and to advance opportunities for profitable employment in California. The division works to ensure a just day’s pay in every workplace in the State.
Government Code section 19572, subdivision (d), specifies that inexcusable neglect of duty constitutes cause for discipline of an employee.
Government Code section 8314 prohibits state employees from using public resources, including state-compensated time, for personal or other purposes not authorized by law, except for incidental and minimal use, such as an occasional telephone call.
Government Code section 19990 prohibits state employees from engaging in activities that are clearly inconsistent or incompatible with their duties, as further defined by each department. One such incompatible activity is failure to devote one’s full time, attention, and efforts to state employment during hours of duty.
Results in Brief
From April 2016 through May 2017, a supervisor within the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (division) at Industrial Relations failed to keep a subordinate employee fully occupied during his work hours. Although the employee was proficient in his work, the supervisor’s neglect of duty resulted in the employee frequently having hours of downtime, some of which he used for personal endeavors. We estimate that during the 14‑month period, the employee had 328 hours of downtime, for which the State paid him $5,411.
The supervisor has been employed in her current job classification with Industrial Relations for more than eight years. In this capacity, she is responsible for directly supervising several office staff members, participating in the selection and training of staff, assigning caseload to staff, and evaluating staff performance and taking appropriate action as necessary.
Since April 2016, the employee has worked in his job classification and has reported directly to the supervisor. His duties include providing clerical support to the division, processing mail, photocopying, faxing, stocking supplies, maintaining files, answering telephone inquiries, and assisting the public.
In response to an allegation we received that the employee was failing to devote his full time and attention to the duties required of his position, we initiated an investigation and requested the assistance of Industrial Relations to conduct the investigation.
The Supervisor Failed to Ensure the Employee Had Sufficient Work to Perform, Resulting in an Estimated Cost of $5,411 to the State
Industrial Relations determined that the supervisor had neglected her duty to ensure that the employee had sufficient work to perform since he began working at Industrial Relations. In the course of its investigation, Industrial Relations interviewed numerous employees, and all of the witnesses reported having seen the employee read, scroll, or text on his personal cell phone. Witnesses further reported seeing the employee use his state computer for activities unrelated to his work and hearing the employee snoring while asleep at his desk. One witness provided the Industrial Relations investigators nearly 20 photos and a video that showed the employee wasting time in various ways, including looking at his cell phone, leaning back in his office chair with his feet up on his desk, and sleeping at his desk.
Industrial Relations asked the supervisor if she had observed the employee engaged in any of the activities the witnesses reported. She admitted she was aware that the employee often ran out of work and acknowledged that she had seen the employee using his personal cell phone at his desk on a couple of occasions. However, the supervisor asserted she had never seen the employee with his feet up on his desk or using his work computer for personal activity. The supervisor defended her inaction by stating that the employee works quickly and has exceptional computer skills; thus, she found it a challenge to keep him busy. Although the supervisor said that she expected the employee to check with other staff for tasks when he ran out of work, she admitted she had not provided the employee with specific instruction in this regard.
When interviewed by Industrial Relations investigators in May 2017, the employee stated that he had experienced downtime during his workdays since he started working at Industrial Relations in 2016 and admitted to all of the allegations. The employee told investigators that his workload depends on other employees, including his supervisor, giving him work to perform. Specifically, the employee has four in‑boxes into which other staff drop off work that he then processes. When the in‑boxes are empty, his work is complete, and he waits at his desk until more work arrives.
The employee stated that on several occasions, he asked his supervisor for work but she was unable to provide any to him. He also asked other employees within the division for work and occasionally received some. When an opportunity arose for the employee to take on additional duties, he volunteered to do so; he began those duties in May 2017. The employee estimated that he did not have any work to perform on 10 percent of his workdays during most months since his hire, and he experienced up to 60 percent downtime in late March and April 2017. Based on his statements, we estimate that from April 2016 through May 2017, he was without sufficient work to perform for 328 hours, for which the State paid him $5,411.
Following its investigation, Industrial Relations issued the supervisor a memorandum addressing her neglect of duty. The memorandum criticizes her failure to adhere to core business hours and the subsequent effect on her ability to supervise her subordinates. The memorandum requires the supervisor to ensure the employee adheres to his work schedule, takes scheduled breaks and lunches, remains productive at all times, and refrains from activities unrelated to work during business hours. It also requires the supervisor to ensure that all of her other staff are fully productive during business hours. Additionally, Industrial Relations reported to us that it will direct the supervisor to provide timely performance feedback to all of her staff through probationary reports and performance appraisals.
In June 2017, Industrial Relations also issued the employee a memorandum concerning his conduct and directed him to cease all activities unrelated to his work during business hours. The memorandum requires the employee to adhere to work hours, take his lunch hour and breaks at set times each day, and restrict the use of his personal cell phone to those times. In addition, it requires the employee to notify his supervisor immediately if he is without work.
Industrial Relations has fully addressed the improper governmental activities identified in this report; thus, we have made no recommendations.
Because Industrial Relations has taken corrective action, no response is needed.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES:
AN ANALYST MISUSED STATE RESOURCES FOR PERSONAL REASONS
About the Department
Social Services employs more than 4,200 employees and is responsible for the oversight and administration of programs serving California’s most vulnerable residents.
Government Code section 8314 prohibits state employees from using state resources, including state computers and state email accounts, for personal purposes, except for incidental and minimal use, such as an occasional telephone call.
Government Code section 19990 prohibits state employees from engaging in activities that are clearly inconsistent or incompatible with their duties as state employees, as further defined by each department. Prohibited activities specifically include using state equipment for private advantage.
Government Code section 19572, subdivision (p), specifies that misuse of state resources constitutes cause for discipline of state employees.
Results in Brief
An analyst at Social Services misused state resources when she used her state email account to conduct personal business. The analyst sent or received 398 personal emails from August 2015 through May 2016.
In addition to the state laws that govern the proper use of state resources, Social Services has its own policies regarding email use that provide its employees with guidelines for using, accessing, and exchanging information using any computer system. Social Services’ policies specify that its employees may use their state email accounts for work‑related activities only and that “incidental and very minimal” personal use of the state email is permitted from time to time. Social Services employees with state email access are further required to complete training on its policies when they are hired and annually thereafter. Records show that the analyst participated in this annual training in 2012 and 2013 only.
In response to an allegation we received that the analyst was using her state email account excessively to send emails to her child’s school and teachers, we initiated an investigation and requested the assistance of Social Services to conduct the investigation.
The Analyst Misused Her State Email Account to Send and Receive an Excessive Number of Personal Emails
As part of this investigation, Social Services performed an evaluation of the analyst’s state email account from August 2015 through May 2016 and found it contained many emails with personal content. We reviewed the emails and determined that the analyst’s use of her state email account for personal reasons violated state laws and Social Services’ policies governing the use of state resources. Our review of the emails provided the following results:
- The analyst sent or received 398 personal emails, which far exceeds incidental or minimal use of state resources.
- The personal emails primarily consisted of communication to and from her child’s school and teachers.
- The analyst also sent and received emails regarding her medical appointments, mortgage finances, and religious affiliation.
During her interview with the Social Services investigator, the analyst admitted that she used her state email account to communicate with her child’s school and teachers. Furthermore, the analyst acknowledged that she used her state email account as a form of contact for receiving personal communications, and the evidence we reviewed supports that she provided her state email address to entities and individuals unrelated to her state employment.
Although many of the emails were lengthy and likely took significant time to compose and read, the analyst claimed to have exchanged the personal emails during her work breaks or lunch times. We did not find evidence to dispute her claim; therefore, we were unable to substantiate that she misused state‑paid time to send and receive the personal emails.
In January 2017, as a result of its investigation, Social Services provided the analyst with a formal counseling memorandum that addressed her misuse of state resources. The analyst left Social Services in February 2017 to work for another state agency.
Because Social Services already formally counseled the analyst for this improper governmental activity, we have no additional recommendation.
Because Social Services already counseled the analyst, no response is necessary.
ELAINE M. HOWLE, CPA
Date: October 12, 2017
Dorothy Le, Chief of Investigations
Russ Hayden, CGFM, Manager of Investigations
Lane Hendricks, CFE, Manager of Investigations
Beka Clement, MPA, CFE
Legal Counsel: Amanda H. Saxton, Sr. Staff Counsel
For questions regarding the contents of this report, please contact
Margarita Fernández, Chief of Public Affairs, at 916.445.0255.