Report I2000-1 Summary - April 2000

Investigations of Improper Activities by State Employees:

July Through December 1999

RESULTS IN BRIEF

The Bureau of State Audits (bureau) administers the California Whistleblower Protection Act (act) contained in the California Government Code, beginning with Section 8547. The act defines "improper governmental activity" as any activity 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. 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. The bureau receives and investigates complaints of improper governmental activities.

If 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 confidential investigative report is transmitted and monthly thereafter until it completes corrective action.

This report details the results of the five investigations completed by the bureau and other state agencies between July 1 and December 31, 1999, that substantiated complaints. Following are examples of the substantiated improper activities:

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Parole agents in the interstate parole unit of the Department of Corrections engaged in the following improper activities:

  • Recommended that two parolees be discharged from parole without reporting they had been arrested for serious crimes within the previous year, thereby jeopardizing the public's safety.

  • Failed to conduct the appropriate reviews and forward them to the Board of Prison Terms within the specified time frames, resulting in the automatic release of six parolees from parole supervision.
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY SERVICES

Employees of the fire and rescue branch of the Office of Emergency Services engaged in the following improper activities:

  • Falsified reports to obtain thousands of dollars in inappropriate overtime and travel payments.

  • Allowed employees under their supervision to claim overtime regularly for nonemergency events such as attending training sessions and meetings on regular days off or for time spent commuting.

  • Used state resources and discounts for personal benefit.

  • Circumvented restrictions on the number of days temporary employees can work.
CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER

Public safety employees engaged in the following improper activities:

  • Thirteen claimed duplicate overtime hours, thereby receiving a total of $4,224 for 168 hours they did not work.

  • Four managerial employees claimed a total of $74,638 for 2,325 overtime hours even though managerial employees are not entitled to overtime compensation.

  • Twelve employees claimed $730 for meals they were not entitled to receive reimbursement for.
Personnel department staff engaged in the following improper activities:
  • Allowed one managerial public safety employee to accumulate 476 hours of compensatory time valued at more than $13,000 even though managerial employees are not entitled to compensatory time.

  • Failed to charge employees' leave balances for absences, resulting in the State incurring thousands of dollars in unnecessary and improper costs.
CALIFORNIA CONSERVATION CORPS
  • A manager signed a subordinate's name on a $315 credit card charge to improperly pay for part of a farewell reception for another manager.
EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT
  • An employee and her supervisor used state resources for personal benefit.
This report also summarizes actions taken by state entities as a result of investigations presented here or reported previously by the state auditor.

Appendix A contains statistics on the complaints received by the bureau between July 1 and December 31, 1999, and summarizes our actions on those and other complaints pending as of June 30, 1999. It also provides information on the cost of improper activities substantiated since 1993 and the corrective actions taken as a result of our investigations.

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

Appendix C provides information on actual or suspected acts of fraud, theft, or other irregularities identified by other state entities. Section 20060 of the State Administrative Manual requires state agencies to notify the bureau and the Department of Finance of such actual or suspected acts. It is our intention to inform the public of the State's awareness of such activities and to publicize the fact that agencies are taking action against wrongdoers and working to prevent improper activities.

See the index for an alphabetical listing of all agencies addressed in this report.


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