State audit report: Caltrans failed to recoup $1.5M in salary overpayments

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Caltrans lost the chance to recover as much as $1.5 million in salary overpayments, according to a report released Monday by the California State Auditor.

Last year, the California State Auditor investigated 1,608 allegations of inappropriate activity by California government agencies.

Caltrans was one of seven state agencies listed in the report due to the department’s “failure to recoup excess salary advances that employees received.”

The auditor found that Caltrans officials had a three-year window after which salary advancements were made to notify its employees about collecting the overpayments. According to the report, the agency often would not provide notice, passing on the chance to begin collection efforts.

“Inefficiency and incompetency in Caltrans’ division of human resources contributed significantly to its failure to notify recipients and collect on the outstanding salary advances,” the report said.

To read the full state auditor’s report, click or tap here.

The auditor’s report says Caltrans became aware of the overpayment issue as early as 2016. But to due to inaction by the agency, the auditor said Caltrans’ overpayments from salary advances increased from less than $1 million in 2014 to more than $5 million in 2020.

The auditor says the office notified Caltrans in July 2020 about 261 of its employees who received a salary advance overpayment and who were approaching the end of the three-year window of notification. In response, “Caltrans expeditiously sent out notifications of overpayments to 130 of the 261 salary advance recipients that we had identified. Its records indicated that it had already sent notifications to the other half of the recipients, with the exception of one deceased individual,” according to the report.

According to analysts, if Caltrans did not take action in response to the July letter, the amount of uncollectable advances would have likely grown from $1.5 million to as much as $2.9 million.

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