Controller: Parks and Recreation Dept. Deliberately Disregarded Policies

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Furthering the payroll abuse charges against the Department of Parks and Recreation, State Controller John Chiang chastised the division in his review released Tuesday.

Chiang noted that the department was willingly violating state policies, cultivating a climate that upped the chances for abuse and fraud.

“The deliberate disregard for internal controls along with little oversight and poorly-trained staff resulted in improper payouts to Parks’ employees,” said Chiang in a statement. “When security protocols and authorization requirements so easily can be overridden, it invites the abuse of public funds.”

Following an investigation by the Sacramento Bee, it came to light that the California Department of Parks and Recreation failed to disclose millions of dollars for more than a decade.

Investigations found that the department failed to report to the Department of Finance about $20 million in the State Parks and Recreation Funds and another $34 million in the Off-Highway Vehicle Fund.

As a result of the investigation, Governor Brown accepted the resignation of then-Parks Director Ruth Coleman, and directed the dismissal of three senior Parks employees.

Chiang’s review noted that 203 employees managed to get about $520,000 in so-called “out-of-class” compensation. That kind of pay is given when employees do work that is outside of the scope of their hired position.

Thanks to the way the department didn’t lawfully keep track of records, however, it’s hard to see if any of those payments were deserved, Chiang noted.

Chiang’s review recommends, among other things, that the department sets up a new alert system to tell employees and their managers when they are about to exceed the maximum number of hours they can work.

The entire review can be viewed here-

Sam Cohen contribute to this report.

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