According to a state report released in October, there were six substantiated incidents of fraud, waste and abuse that were included in the state auditor’s regular report on “improper governmental activities.” One of these incidents involved a state Department of Industrial Relations employee who apparently didn’t have enough work to keep him busy because he was heard snoring at his work station. The employee was photographed over 20 times sleeping, texting and reading on his personal cell phone, and reclining with his feet on his desk. The employee’s estimated 328 hours of “downtime” in about a year-long period cost taxpayers an estimated $5,411.
The report stated that tips from whistleblowers prompted the investigations, which found state employees breaking the law, wasting state resources and failing to do the jobs for which taxpayers paid them. In the first half of 2017, the state auditor received 662 tips and investigated 677 new and open cases. Preliminary review found evidence too thin for investigation in 435 of the cases, but the office made further inquiry into the remaining 242 cases, and investigated 50 of them with help from other departments. The six substantiated cases combined, which are all summarized in the report, cost taxpayers $19,320 on top of the unquantifiable cost of negative social impacts such as eroded trust in government, failure to perform mandated duties and abuse of authority. It is good to see that the California Whistleblower Act is working and hopefully the issues stated in the report have been corrected.