An Office of State Comptroller audit of six state agencies and authorities found a pattern of abuse and poor oversight of employees that hold two or more public jobs, including fraudulently claiming to be working at two places at the same time. Earnings by all workers with two or more state jobs exceed $500 million annually. If even only a small percentage of these payments are not earned, the cumulative cost to taxpayers could easily be several million dollars annually.
Of 345 employees examined, auditors found 75 employees that regularly violated time and attendance policies, costing taxpayers $413,277 for 4,803 hours not worked. This amount represented almost 4.5 percent of the employees’ salaries. Auditors also found employees falsified timesheets, abused sick leave and misrepresented travel time from one job to another.
“Dozens of public employees working for more than one public employer have managed to take advantage of lax oversight and take credit for hours they didn’t work,” The audit found supervisors were lax and often complicit in allowing employees to game the system. This is costing taxpayers too much and could jeopardize public safety. It has got to stop.
The auditors examined the issue of dual employment after identifying red flags in previous audits. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Unified Court System (UCS) and the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) were selected for audit. Dual employment is most prevalent at colleges, prisons, health facilities and the courts. The most common secondary positions are as adjuncts, correction officers, and school hourly staff.
In additional findings, the auditors found 69 employees who claimed to have worked 3,536 hours at two jobs at the same time (overlapping hours). Another 22 employees did not accurately reflect travel time from one job to another, and 16 improperly charged 511 hours of sick leave at one job, even though they were working at a second job.
Specific examples include:
- An MTA track equipment maintainer also worked for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and reported 193.5 overlapping hours (in one year) at a cost of $8,232.
- A Unified Court System employee was teaching classes at CUNY during the hours that he was supposed to be at UCS.
- A psychiatric nurse employed by the Office of Mental Health also worked as a public health nurse at P.S. 205 in the Bronx, submitted time records reporting the same end and start time for both jobs. She was paid for 205 hours not worked over twenty-two months.
- A Office for People with Developmental Disabilities aide charged 64 hours of unscheduled sick leave even though he was actually attending out-of-state basketball games associated with his SUNY employment. He was paid for 64 hours of sick leave at $1,200 and was paid as much as $689 for time not worked, and
- There were 16 MTA employees who, because of their dual employment, were violating time limits for consecutive hours worked within a 24-hour period and were potentially putting public transportation users at risk.
Each of the six entities is performing its own internal investigation of employees identified in the audits. At the Office of Children and Family Services, two employees were fired, while a third resigned. All audited groups were instructed to adjust calculations for any unearned pension credits given to the cited employees and encouraged to developing policies that reflect legally permissible practices. The Comptroller’s office will also start providing agencies with data to allow payroll offices to better monitor employees with two or more jobs.
My assessment: I would like to see the Office of State Comptroller establish on its web site a monthly summary describing the behavior of employees who have gamed the system for personal advantage and the action taken or recommended to stop the abuses cited. Required reading recommended.