A CSU officer’s nap time that cost the state $16K and other abuses uncovered by state audit

A California State University officer napping on the job, an IT associate improperly taking bereavement leave, and three engineers who collectively misused about 1,000 hours of state time by dilly-dallying to and from the office are just some of the characters charged with engaging in “various improper governmental activities,” according to a new report by the California State Auditor.

These and other abuses by 30 employees at multiple agencies have cost the state an estimated $150,000 in just six months (from July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018).

The goings-on chronicled in the report should be unsurprising to anyone who’s ever stepped foot in a 9-to-5 workplace or, at the very least, watched the 1999 comedy “Office Space.” State workers apparently left early, failed to properly log hours, fell asleep, and so on.

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Employees who thought they were taking time off sans consequence got nabbed by the auditor after failing to recount how they’d spent their hours. It’s hardly Big Brother, but the State is watching its employees to some degree.

Some of the entries in the audit are downright humorous, though the financial consequences — wasted tax dollars! — are not. In the aforementioned incident at a CSU, a campus police officer apparently regularly took “time at work to lie down and at times fall asleep.” The impromptu nap times cost the state an estimated $16,400.

The three engineers, employed by the State Water Resources Control Board, misused about 1,000 hours by “arriving late to work, taking extending lunches, and leaving work early,” the report says. These dalliances, including a State Water Board employee who failed to report 35 hours of absences, racked up about $48,000 in salaries “paid for work the employees did not perform.”

In one especially critical entry, a manager at the California Department of Social Services reportedly “failed to take progressive discipline with a subordinate employee whom the supervisor knew was wasting state time and not performing his job duties satisfactorily.”

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It’s easy to mock employees skirting the rules of their workplaces, but the conversation around state employees slacking off has reached a pitch in California, largely thanks to its Department of Motor Vehicles.

That department has undergone multiple audits of its own in the past year thanks to long lines, bureaucratic gridlock and other long-standing issues. The most recent development in the state DMV saga: Three million Californians might have to return to the DMV because the state did not comply with Homeland Security guidelines when it developed its Real ID program. Gulp.

The State Auditor did offer some recommendations for reform. Suggestions included improving training for state supervisors and managers, particularly related to reviewing and monitoring time reporting, and considering a change to “relevant bargaining unit agreements” to require employees to submit substantiation when they claim bereavement leave.

Read Michelle Robertson’s latest stories and send her news tips at michelle.robertson@sfgate.com

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This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/state-audit-government-agency-employee-abuse-13757701.php.

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