Employees at three California prison agencies wasted more than $41,000 through improper management and falsely reported hours and duties, according to the results of a state probe released Tuesday.
The findings are part of a series of investigations made public Tuesday by the state auditor, revealing employee misconduct across seven state agencies that cost the state about $200,000 in wasteful spending.
In the state’s correctional system, workers were found to be engaging in nepotism, receiving pay while ditching work and skimming off extra compensation.
California Correctional Health Care Services
Officials discovered a prison nursing director allowed a licensed vocational nurse to perform administrative work rather than provide patient care — a decision likely made over favoritism that cost $29,200, the report said.
The LVN was reassigned in May 2015 to tasks usually carried out by a technician. Investigators believe that was because the director and nurse are close friends.
The report estimated this abuse of work responsibilities amounted to $10,500 in unnecessary salary payments, as the LVN was being paid to work at a higher rate than what an office technician would have been paid. Furthermore, because other nurses were hired to cover the LVN’s shift, an additional $18,700 was wasted on compensating those nurses for unnecessary overtime pay.
Correctional Health Care disputed the results of the investigation, the report said. Instead, it alleged that the nurse director’s decision actually resulted in a cost savings due to increased “staffing efficiencies” and “decreased use of overtime to cover staff positions.”
The auditor’s office said it has not verified this claim, but it did confirm that the prison was understaffed at the time of the LVN’s reassignment. This means that the LVN was excused from her patient care duties during a time when other nurses throughout the prison were working “thousands of overtime hours” to cover the LVN’s work, the report said.
Kern Valley State Prison
An employee at the state prison engaged in time abuse over the course of two years by continually leaving work up to 45 minutes early. The report cited “inadequate supervision” as the reason the employee was able to regularly leave earlier, since his supervisor’s shift ended an hour before his.
The investigation found the employee missed 312 hours of work, costing the state $9,000.
In March, the state prison implemented mandatory accountability sign-in logs, the report states.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
An analyst at a prison continued receiving inmate supervision pay after being promoted to a position that was not entitled to such compensation, the auditor’s office said.
The investigation revealed the employee was paid $3,000 in extra pay known as Institutional Worker Supervision Pay from July 2016 to March 2017.
Because the employee and three supervisors — her manager, an associate warden and a personnel specialist — neglected proper protocol, she continued to receive $325 a month that she should not have, the report said.
The CDCR is in communication with the analyst, who is expected to cooperate and repay the improper pay, the report said. The agency also told the auditor’s office it will implement training so employees understand the inmate supervision pay program.