Thursday, April 21, 2011

San Diego Government Jobs, Others Criticized on Finances

Those with San Diego government jobs ( and other state positions are being criticized for their lack of financial responsibility.

The California State Controller's Office recently released several audits showing that there are a number of state agencies that failed to collect salary and travel advances from employees. That led Gov. Jerry Brown to order all state departments to recover taxpayer money and improve their internal accounting practices.

Current state law allows state agencies to advance an employee's salary when checks are delayed, an employee travels, a hardship request is made, a vendor requires immediate payment, or an employee quits and needs their final check.

One audit from 2009 found that most state agencies either took too long to collect salary advances or failed to collect them at all. In particular, 11 agencies failed to collect a total of $13.3 million in advances, including $500,000 that had been outstanding for three years.

However, Brown is now requiring all state agencies to clear salary and travel expense advances within 30 days, after which time the agency will be required to deduct the advance from the employee's next paycheck. In addition, agencies are being asked to improve their record keeping, oversight, training, and collection practices.

"It's shocking that the state has apparently failed to collect millions of dollars in salary and travel advances owed by state employees," Brown said in a statement. "This situation reinforces the worst stereotype of ineffective and inefficient government, and I have ordered state agencies to immediately investigate the backlog of uncollected debts and find every penny owed to taxpayers. State agencies must regain control of this program."

And the audits aren't over yet, as Controller John Chiang plans to continue examining the practices in place at many other state agencies. Those future audits could result in millions of other dollars that have yet to be collected.

"The state's poor debt collection and accounting practices are fleecing public coffers at a time when vital public programs are being decimated by unprecedented budget cuts," Chiang said. "I applaud Governor Brown's commitment to making every dollar count."

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