April 2, 2020
Investigative Report I2020-1
The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:
The California State Auditor, as authorized by the California Whistleblower Protection Act, presents this report summarizing some of the investigations of alleged improper governmental activities that my office completed between January 2019 and December 2019. This report details 11 substantiated allegations involving several state agencies. Our investigations found waste of state funds, misuse of bereavement leave, misuse of state resources, employee dishonesty, and supervisory neglect of duty. In total, we identified about $618,000 of inappropriate expenditures.
For example, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Fish and Wildlife) wasted more than a half million dollars of state and federal funds when it purchased a custom-built research boat in June 2017 that has remained largely unused. The original specifications and subsequent changes were inadequate to ensure that Fish and Wildlife could use the research boat as it intended.
In another case, a veterans long-term care home (veterans home) administrator at the California Department of Veterans Affairs wasted nearly $38,000 of state funds by failing to ensure that veterans home staff followed state procedures to inspect a bedbug treatment oven upon delivery in 2015. Staff then left it outdoors and unprotected from the elements for four years, rendering it inoperable.
Further, we found that during a two-year period, seven employees at five state agencies improperly claimed a total of more than 320 hours of bereavement leave valued at almost $10,000. The supervisors for these employees also failed to adequately review staff timesheets to ensure that the employees charged bereavement leave in accordance with permissible limits.
State agencies must report to my office any corrective or disciplinary action they take in response to recommendations we have made. Their first reports are due within 60 days after we notify the agency or authority of the improper activity, and they continue to report monthly thereafter until they have completed corrective action.
ELAINE M. HOWLE, CPA
California State Auditor