Report 2014-117 Summary - March 2015

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:

It Must Improve Legal Compliance and Administrative Oversight of Its Employment of Retired Annuitants and Use of State-Owned Vehicles

HIGHLIGHTS

Our audit of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (Corrections) use of retired annuitants and state-owned vehicles (vehicles) highlighted the following:

  • Corrections did not always follow state laws and its own policies in hiring retired state employees to function in managerial positions (managerial retired annuitants). Of the 20 managerial retired annuitants we reviewed, Corrections:
    • Did not consistently document the short-term nature of the work for nine.
    • Did not obtain timely approvals for hiring nine.
  • Corrections allowed 12 managerial retired annuitants to work beyond the 960-hour limit per fiscal year.
  • Corrections was deficient in assigning and monitoring vehicles driven by its managerial employees and its retired annuitants.
    • It did not provide adequate justification for 14 of the 21 vehicle home storage permits (permits) we reviewed.
    • It issued 19 permits to employees before approval and thus, some employees used the vehicles for several months before obtaining the required approvals.
    • Required travel logs at 11 of 12 Corrections locations we reviewed were often incomplete or nonexistent.

RESULTS IN BRIEF

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) has sometimes failed to follow state laws and its own policies when hiring retired state employees to function in managerial positions (managerial retired annuitants) and when assigning and monitoring its employees' use of state-owned vehicles (vehicles). According to our review of the relevant records for fiscal years 2010-11 through 2013-14, Corrections' documentation related to the hiring of managerial retired annuitants and to its employees' use of vehicles reveals gaps and inconsistencies.

State law permits retiree employment either during emergency situations that could stop public business or because the retirees have specialized skills needed to perform work of limited duration. Also, state law limits the number of hours retired annuitants can work to 960 hours per fiscal year. Although Corrections' policy requires hiring managers to document a description of the emergency or short-term need to hire retired annuitants, our examination of the managerial retired annuitants' hiring documents showed that Corrections did not consistently document the short-term nature of the work for nine of the 20 managerial retired annuitants that we reviewed. Additionally, Corrections did not obtain timely approvals for hiring nine of the 20 managerial retired annuitants. Furthermore, Corrections did not adequately monitor its retirees' work hours. In fact, Corrections' poor oversight allowed some managerial retired annuitants to work beyond the 960-hour limit per fiscal year. Specifically, the number of hours worked in excess of the 960-hour limit ranged from one-half hour to 84.5 hours for 12 managerial retired annuitants. One managerial retired annuitant exceeded the limit in both fiscal year 2011-12 and fiscal year 2013-14 by a total of nearly 114 hours for the two fiscal years. When Corrections does not complete documentation and fails to fulfill requirements for overseeing managerial retired annuitants, it risks the possibility that both Corrections and its retired annuitants will face severe financial penalties for unlawful employment that include reimbursing the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

Corrections' records also showed that for the fiscal years under review, Corrections was deficient in assigning and monitoring vehicles driven by its managerial employees and its retired annuitants. Although state regulations and its own policies direct Corrections to document justifications for the assignment of vehicles, Corrections' vehicle records contain many omissions, and it allowed some employees to use vehicles before the employees received official approval to do so. Specifically, for fiscal years 2012-13 through 2013-14, Corrections did not provide adequate justification for 14 of the 21 vehicle home storage permits (permits) we reviewed. Corrections issued these permits—which allow employees to store the vehicles at their homes—when it assigned vehicles to employees who claimed their use of those vehicles was cost-effective or essential to their work. Corrections also issued 19 of the 21 permits we reviewed to employees before approving the related permit requests, allowing some employees to use assigned vehicles for several months before they obtained the required approvals.

Although Corrections' policies require employees to document vehicle use by completing and retaining travel logs both for vehicles assigned to them and for pooled vehicles—those vehicles housed at Corrections locations for everyday use by multiple staff—travel logs at 11 of 12 Corrections locations were often incomplete or nonexistent. According to Corrections, its employees have had insufficient training on the requirements and policies related to vehicle use. Nevertheless, we believe that because of the logs' straightforward nature, Corrections should have been able to train its employees easily on the accurate completion of travel logs. This condition was allowed to continue uncorrected because Corrections staff did not review the logs for missing information, an action that could help prevent instances of incomplete and missing logs. Without proper documentation for its assigned and pooled vehicles and training of those employees who use them, Corrections cannot be certain that it is managing its vehicle fleet in a cost-effective way that benefits the State.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To ensure that it complies with state laws and its policies related to retired annuitants' employment, Corrections should provide its hiring managers and staff with guidance on the following:

  • Ensure that there is adequate justification for the hiring of retired annuitants.
  • Obtain the necessary approvals before hiring retired annuitants.

To ensure that retired annuitants do not work more than the 960-hour limit allowed by law, Corrections should develop and implement a policy for the regular review of the number of hours worked by retired annuitants.

To make sure that permits receive timely and appropriate approval, Corrections should do the following:

  • Provide guidance to employees who complete or approve permit requests about the documentation they should include when justifying the need for permits.
  • Emphasize the importance of approving permit requests before the department assigns vehicles to employees.

To strengthen its oversight of its employees' use of vehicles, Corrections should do the following:

  • Provide training to staff and supervisors about the use and accurate completion of travel logs.
  • Require the regular review of the travel logs for pooled vehicles.

AGENCY COMMENTS

Corrections agreed with our recommendations and stated it has taken actions or plans to take actions to implement them.


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