Audit aims at overtime abuse by guards
The state says internal controls are needed to keep employees from taking advantage
A state financial audit has once again targeted overtime problems in the Department of Public Safety.
The audit by KPMG, which was released this week and covers the 2004-05 fiscal year, said there were too few safeguards to protect against overtime abuse.
Previous audits by the state auditor's office also criticized high overtime payments to prison guards.
Louise Kim McCoy, Public Safety spokeswoman, said the audit did not take into account the need for certain "essential posts" to be covered, no matter the situation, to protect inmates and the guards.
"With security, there's no room to try to do with less," she added. "Don't compare us to a government agency that's a 9-to-5" operation.
Both sides acknowledged that there are numerous factors in overtime that are beyond the department's control, such as staffing shortages and job posts that are gender specific.
But the auditors contended a lack of internal controls "to prevent and detect overtime errors and abuse" could lead to employees taking advantage of the situation.
They targeted three areas as potential for abuse:
» No process to monitor individuals with high overtime or to spread it out evenly.
» Improperly filled-out overtime forms and time sheets.
» A department policy that allows workers to claim overtime for work done two years ago.
Auditors also reported that inmate trust accounts were not being updated accurately and timely, and that "advances were made for unallowable purposes," according to the overview.
According to the audit, inmate trust accounts are supposed to pay child support, court and legal fees, medical bills and commissary purchases, and can be supplemented through work wages and monetary gifts.
In response to the draft report, former department interim Director Claire Nakamura said the department had started a new standardized form that would resolve some of the issues, and had signed up facility personnel for more training regarding the accounts.