State Audit: Dual Jobs, Lots of Vacation, Happy Hour at Work

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You can say one thing about those pesky state auditors: they sure are picky about how taxpayer dollars are spent.

The annual report on "Improper Activities by State Employees" is out from the Bureau of State Audits, chock full of little anecdotes about no-nos the auditors discovered.

The report obviously isn't an indictment of the vast majority of state workers (no emails, please) or of most government agencies. Nonetheless, it always provides some insight into how a handful of folks think they've gotten away with something... for a little while, at least.

Without any further ado...

Two Jobs Are Better Than One: The audit found a full-time employee at the California Department of Housing and Community Development was holding down a job on the outside at the same time she drew a state paycheck. And if that wasn't enough, the outside job was with a non-profit organization that was receiving grants from the department. Total cost to the state: $34,687. Ummm, didn't anyone notice? Apparently not. From the auditors' report: "The employee's managers at HCD did not sufficiently supervise her attendance and failed to respond appropriately to numerous indications that the employee was working simultaneously at the nonprofit."

There's No Business Like... No Business: Over at the state Environmental Protection Agency, auditors found an employee who was apparently taking time off but being paid as though she was on the job. The employee (all persons are unnamed in the audit, by the way) was away from work a total of 768 hours over a 22 month period. That's 19.2 weeks of vacation... assuming a standard workweek... in less than two years. Cost to the state: $23,320. Again, the audit raps the knuckles of supervisors who failed to stay on top of the situation.

On the Job Drinking: At the California Employment Development Department, auditors discovered an employee who was drinking alcoholic beverages while working, which (shockingly) "impeded his ability to perform his duties safely." But it gets better. "Moreover," says the report, "his supervisors had been aware of the situation for years." In the time since the auditors filed their report, supervisors at the agency decided to suspend the worker, without pay, for two days.

The list goes on with other small, but interesting, snippets of folks not necessarily walking the straight and narrow. The incidents came to light through California's Whistleblower Protection Act, and the report was officially submitted to the governor and Legislature today by State Auditor Elaine Howle.

The entire report, in all its glory, can be found here.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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