Auditor Issues Mild Report on Calif. Prisons

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – California’s prison system failed to keep track of vehicles assigned to managers, hired retirees as managers without sufficient justification and allowed some to work beyond the state’s 960-hour limit, State Auditor Elaine Howle said.
     In a new audit, Howle’s office found that the California Corrections and Rehabilitation Department did not justify why it hired retired state employees as managers.
     “Corrections did not consistently document the short-term nature of the work for nine of the 20 managerial retired annuitants that we reviewed,” Howle wrote. “Additionally, Corrections did not obtain timely approvals for hiring nine of the 20 managerial retired annuitants.”
     She added: “Furthermore, Corrections did not adequately monitor its retirees’ work hours. In fact, Corrections’ poor oversight allowed some retired annuitants to work beyond the 960-hour limit.”
     The audit noted that while 12 retirees worked in excess of one half-hour to 84.5 hours, one worked a total of 114 hours over the limit within 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 may face severe financial penalties for unlawful employment that include reimbursing the California Public Employees’ Retirement System,” Howle wrote.
     The prison system’s lax oversight also allowed managers and retired annuitants to drive state-owned vehicles without approval. The audit found the department could not justify why 14 employees were permitted to take vehicles home between 2012 and 2014.
     “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,” she wrote. “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.”
     The department also failed to make sure managers and retirees accurately documented how they used the vehicles.
     “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,” Howle wrote. “Corrections cannot be certain its employees are appropriately using the vehicles.
     In a response letter, Corrections Undersecretary Diana Toche said: “To address retired annuitant hiring issues, CDCR is currently revisiting its policy and approval forms for hiring and renewing retired annuitants which will include comprehensive justification requirements,” adding that the department will train its employees on state vehicle usage policies.

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