SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Department of State Hospitals administrator traveled to his Sacramento-based job from elsewhere in California and the state wasted $47,800 in state funds during a 15-month period from November 2016 until January 2018.
The information came out in the State Auditor Whistleblower report. It reviewed more than 800 cases, including 116 cases involving allegations of waste or improper payments from July 1, 2018-December 31, 2018.
Of those 116 cases, the agency conducted preliminary investigative work on 62 of them. Of those, investigators obtained sufficient evidence in 33 cases, allowing them to launch thorough investigations.
The administrator was promoted to a new position with headquarters in Sacramento in late 2016. However, State Hospitals “submitted a request and received approval from its oversight agency, the California Health and Human Services Agency (Health and Human Services), for the administrator’s headquarters to be designated as the State Hospitals facility where the administrator had worked previously.” The request stated the administrator would travel for the following reasons:
- Critical in-person meetings at State Hospital facilities
- Visits to meet with staff
- Mandatory in-person meetings in Sacramento with leadership, work groups, control agencies, budget and legislative hearings
The Auditor’s investigation found the change in headquarters violated the state’s telecommute policy since the change was only due to a personal benefit for the administrator and not in the best interest of the state. From November 2016-January 2018, the investigation found 48% of the administrator’s workdays were spent attending meetings at State Hospitals Sacramento headquarters; 19% were spent at the administrator’s designated headquarters; 30% were spent working from home. The report found agency failed to oversee the administrator’s travel activity and, as a result, State Hospitals wasted almost $47,800 in state funds. If the adminstrator’s designated headquarters had remained Sacramento then these costs would not have been incurred.
Additionally, the administrator often flew using the suburban airport closest to their home, not the metropolitan airport closest to their designated headquarters, resulting in the state spending an average of $200-$300 more per flight.
After the Auditor brought the travel costs and telecommuting time to the attention of the supervisor, the “administrator’s travel costs and number of days the
administrator typically telecommuted, the administrator’s travel to Sacramento dropped significantly, as did the administrator’s telecommuting activity. Specifically, from April 2018 through July 2018, only 21 percent of the administrator’s workdays were spent in Sacramento, compared to 48 percent during the period of our investigation. Further, when the administrator did travel, the administrator took less costly flights from the metropolitan airport closest to the administrator’s designated headquarters. During that same four‑month period, the administrator spent only five workdays telecommuting.”
Since the Audit, State Hospitals said the administrator’s designated headquarters will remain out of Sacramento but will monitor telecommuting and travel time/costs.