_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK


California State Auditor Issues Scathing Report on Department of Corrections

By Brian Hews

The California State Auditor, in a report emailed to Hews Media Group-Community News today, issued a scathing report on the Department of Corrections use of managerial retired annuitants (MRA), more commonly known as consultants, and the abuse of state‑owned vehicles by the MRA’s.

MRA’s are subject to many restrictions in state law. The Public Employees’ Retirement Law (PERL) includes restrictions on the nature of the employment, level of compensation, and number of hours a retiree may work in a fiscal year.

Specifically, PERL allows retirees to work for state agencies either during an emergency to prevent the stoppage of public business or because the retired person has specialized skills needed to perform work of limited duration.

Additionally, PERL mandates that hourly compensation cannot exceed the maximum monthly base salary, computed as an hourly rate, paid to other employees who perform comparable duties. Retirees can perform this limited‑duration work for no more than 960 hours per fiscal year.

Corrections employed between 434 and 984 MRA’s annually during fiscal years 2010–11 through 2013–14.

The report stated, “Corrections did not always follow state laws and its own policies in hiring retired state employees to function in managerial positions.”

It went on to state, “Corrections appears to be allowing some of its MRA’s work indefinitely in certain management positions. Corrections did not consistently verify that the retirees it hired were eligible for employment, and it did not seek a permanent employee instead of a MRA for at least one managerial position.”

Of the 20 MRA’s they reviewed, the State Auditor found glaring managerial negligence in documenting hours worked and the assignment of vehicles to the MRA’s.

The auditor reported that Correction did not consistently document the short‑term nature of the work for nine of the MRA’s and also did not obtain timely approvals for hiring those nine.

The auditor also found that Corrections allowed 12 MRA’s to work beyond the 960‑hour limit per fiscal year.

The report went on to state that Corrections was deficient in assigning and monitoring vehicles driven by its MRA’s.

The auditor documented that Corrections did not provide adequate justification for 14 of the 21 vehicle home storage permits (permits) it reviewed. “Corrections issued 19 permits to employees before approval and thus, some employees used the vehicles for several months before obtaining the required approvals.”

Although Corrections’ policies require employees to document vehicle use by completing and retaining travel logs both for vehicles assigned to them and for pooled vehicles—those vehicles housed at Corrections locations for everyday use by multiple staff—travel logs at 11 of 12 Corrections locations were often incomplete or nonexistent.

In addition to not submitting to the state controller reports about MRA’s personal use of vehicles, Corrections sometimes failed to submit required monthly mileage reports to General Services.

The auditor recommended several guidance measures including an adequate justification on the hiring form for MRA’s, obtaining necessary approvals before MRA’s begin work, provide training to staff and supervisors about the use and accurate completion of travel logs and require regular review of the travel logs for pooled vehicles.

Correction submitted a letter in response to the audit, principally agreeing with all deficiencies pointed out by the State Auditor and agreed to implement the guidance measures.