Recent independent reports suggest that state government agencies and departments routinely spend on programs and projects with little accountability to taxpayers, failing to consider what is the most efficient and effective way to stretch tax dollars to the fullest.
Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in state government is essential to our efforts to solve California's long-term budget problems once and for all.
Below are a few examples of government waste highlighted by nonpartisan government watchdogs and independent state auditors. These examples only scratch the surface of the billions of dollars in ongoing wasteful and fraudulent state spending.
According to a 2010 report by the California Taxpayers Association, audits and news media accounts reported that more than $3.4 billion was wasted by state and local governments as a result of inefficiency, fraud and mismanagement.
By eliminating wasteful, inefficient and fraudulent spending and programs, Cal Tax found that state government could have saved approximately $1.5 billion - funds that could be used to eliminate the need for painful cuts to K-12 classrooms and our public colleges and universities.
Examples of fraud and abuse
Losing High-Speed Rail Bidders will get $2 million each
Only one of the five construction firms will be awarded the $1.8 billion high-speed rail contract for the first 30-miles of track. However, a recent report by the U-T San Diego
uncovered that the remaining four companies will get paid $2 million each, simply for submitting a bid. The California High-Speed Rail Authority claims payouts like these are supposed to attract more bidders and competitive proposals. The high-speed rail project is slated to cost $68 - $98 billion, with nearly $3.3 to $11.7 billion guaranteed by the federal government.
Cal Fire hid Millions of Taxpayer Dollars in Secret Account
Following the discovery of nearly $54 million in hidden funds by the Parks Department, the Los Angeles Times reported another abuse of taxpayer money
by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). The Department set up an account with the California District Attorneys Association instead of depositing it into the General Fund. Since 2005, Cal Fire officials have hidden nearly $3.6 million, even while the Legislature and Governor Brown implemented the $150 fire tax to cover the Department’s budget gaps.
K-12 School Districts Literally Steal Kid’s Lunch Money
California Bureaucrats Earn $80,000 Travel Bill, on Taxpayer’s Dime
Several members of the California Department of Veteran’s Affairs (CalVet) have incurred excessive travel expenses, all paid for by California taxpayers. According to a CBS 13 Sacramento report
, officials appointed by the governor have spent $82,000 on travel in 18 months. A majority of the travel arrangements appear to violate Governor Brown’s 2011 mandate that banned all “non-mission critical” travel. It was also discovered that CalVet leadership approved each other’s trips and have racked up enough frequent flyer miles for around 30 free flights, all on the taxpayers’ dime.
CalVet Officials Get Free Parking, at the expense of Disabled Veterans
Taxpayers will Pay $5.6 Million so people can walk on partially-completed Bay Bridge
Californians will get a change to walk on the newly completed section of the new Bay Bridge before it opens on Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to pay nearly $6 million to do so. A Contra Costa Times article examined the cost of letting nearly 200,000 walk on the newly completed suspension bridge
. According to the article, previous anniversaries for the Golden Gate Bridge and even the San Francisco Giants World Series parade were paid for with private funding. Now, state officials want to add another $5.6 million onto the most expensive public works project ever built in California history.
CalPERS Managers Working Two Paid Positions
In-Home Care Payments Made to Dead Patients
According to the State Controller's Office
, poor oversight of the In-Home Supportive Services program resulted in $11 million being distributed to patients or providers of care that were deceased. A 2009-10 investigation of In-Home Supportive Services by the Sacramento County District Attorney's office found 19 cases of fraud. The Schwarzenegger Administration estimated fraud and abuse could account for 25 percent of in-home care costs statewide. Unfortunately, the Legislature has repealed anti-fraud measures to ensure IHSS money was spent only on those who are in need.
State E-Waste Recycling Program Losing Tens of Millions to Fraud
According to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee, the state's e-waste recycling program has lost tens of millions of dollars due to fraud, the result of illegal material being smuggled in from out of state. The paper reported $23 million in fraudulently submitted claims that are yet-to-be-paid and another $30 million in fraudulent claims that have been paid.
Government Employees Receiving Excessive Paid Vacation Time
According to a report in California Watch, state employees have received millions of dollars for unused vacation time
, above the set limits. The report found that at least $100 million, and likely tens of millions of dollars more, was paid to state employees who went over the cap and retired between 2006 and mid-2007.
Examples of wasteful and inefficient state spending
Department of Public Health Program Wastes $5.1 Million on Non-Healthcare Services
The State Auditor's Office found a lack of accountability in the Department of Public Health "Every Woman Counts" program
, which provides cancer screening services to women. Their report found that if it had redirected half of what it spent on contracts for non-healthcare services, it could have dedicated an additional $5.1 million to pay for cancer screening, allowing an additional 41,500 women to receive healthcare services.
University of California Wastes Hundreds of Millions of Dollars on Administration
In 2010, officials with the University of California announced plans to cut $500 million in administrative "waste."
Examples of university waste include giving nearly every employee in the UC Office of the President their own printer. Cutting down on printers has saved $300,000.
Two sources were invaluable in helping to prepare this report. "Making Government Work
," Cal Tax Research Bulletin, March 2011