Report I98-2 Summary - September 1998

Investigations of Improper Governmental Activities by State Employees:

February 1 Through June 30, 1998

The Bureau of State Audits (bureau) administers the Reporting of Improper Governmental Activities Act (act) contained in Section 8547, and following, of the California Government Code. The act defines "improper governmental activity" as any action by a state agency or state employee during the performance of official duties that violates any state or federal law or regulation; that is economically wasteful; or that involves gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency. The bureau receives and investigates complaints of improper governmental activities. To enable state employees and the public to report these activities, the state auditor maintains the toll-free Whistleblower Hotline (hotline). The hotline number is (800) 952-5665.

This report details the results of the eight investigations completed by the bureau and other agencies between February 1 and June 30, 1998, that substantiated complaints. Following are examples of the substantiated improper activities:

Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development

  • An employee took a leave of absence from OSHPD to work for a corporation regulated in part by OSHPD. Prior to his leave, he improperly approved plans for a $4 million project the corporation submitted.

  • During his leave of absence, this same employee improperly represented the corporation before OSHPD on projects he had previously approved while working at OSHPD.

  • This same employee failed to disclose his financial interest in the corporation.

Department of Health Services
  • As a result of filing false attendance claims, one employee received $3,817 from the State for 154 hours she did not work.

  • A manager may have allowed this same employee to work overtime without compensation, thereby creating a potential liability for the State of more than $100,000.

  • Another employee improperly claimed, and her manager improperly approved, $19,000 in reimbursements for relocation and commuting expenses.

  • Yet another manager improperly claimed reimbursement of $748 for meals and other expenses.

  • Two other employees failed to disclose their financial interests in outside employment.

Public Utilities Commission
  • One rail inspector improperly claimed $1,414 in travel reimbursements although his state calling card records indicate that he was not on business-related travel.

  • This same rail inspector and five others improperly claimed at least $6,570 in reimbursements for lodging expenses they did not incur.

Department of Corrections
  • An attorney improperly accepted transportation on a private airplane from an opposing counsel's law firm.

  • This same attorney failed to disclose these gifts of transportation on her statement of economic interests.

Stephen P. Teale Data Center
  • Despite knowing a procurement analyst had a personal relationship with a vendor's account executive, a manager directed her to continue purchases from the vendor. As a result, an appearance of a conflict of interest was created.

This report also summarizes corrective actions taken by state entities as a result of investigations presented here or reported previously by the state auditor.

If, after investigating any allegations, the state auditor determines reasonable evidence exists of improper governmental activity, the bureau confidentially reports the details of the activity to the head of the employing agency or the appropriate appointing authority. The employer or appointing authority is required to notify the state auditor of any corrective action taken, including disciplinary action, no later than 30 days after the date the state auditor transmits the confidential investigative report. If employers or appointing authorities do not complete the actions within 30 days, they must report to the state auditor monthly until they complete the actions.

In addition, Appendix A contains statistics on the complaints received by the bureau between February 1 and June 30, 1998. It also summarizes our actions on those or other pending complaints as of February 1, 1998.

Finally, Appendix B details the laws, regulations, and policies that govern the improper activities discussed in this report.