California Audit Exposes State Agency Waste

     (CN) – A California Mental Health Department official who billed the state to attend the funeral of a famous comedian is just one of several boondoggles described in the latest report by the Bureau of State Audits.
     The findings, compiled from seven different investigations, reveal misuse of government time and money by several state agencies, including the Department of Mental Health and Department of Corrections.
     A senior official with the Department of Mental Health used “his access to celebrities to try to enlist them to serve as spokespeople,” according to the audit, which was released Thursday.
     Most of the official’s work activities were unrelated to his state job. The investigation found that he once attended the funeral of a famous comedian and recorded it as work.
     He also worked “almost exclusively from his home in Southern California” and traveled to meetings in a police car because “he felt that it created a perception problem for the senior official to arrive at meetings in his personal luxury vehicle,” the report says.
     One chief psychologist at a correctional facility worked for his private practice on state time, costing California more than $200,000 over a five-year period.
     The report also shows evidence of falsified timekeeping records at the California Energy Commission and the Department of Industrial Relations.
     At the Energy Commission, a personnel manager and employee worked together to allow one worker to accumulate unearned leave time. Supervisors at the Department of Industrial Relations allowed workers to falsify their time sheets, the report says.
     California also lost nearly $9,000 from compensating a Fish and Game Department employee for personal use of her state-issued vehicle.
     The auditor issued recommendations for each of the agencies, suggesting that they adopt better timekeeping systems and take disciplinary action against supervisors who allow falsified records.

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