The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ran up a $97-million overtime bill over an 11-month period, with some money going to employees who did not show up for work, an internal audit has found.
The study, ordered by the board that oversees the nation's largest municipal utility, also found that some employees reported both overtime and absences on the same days.
The 2 million hours of overtime were incurred between March 2005 and February 2006.
More than 3,000 employees charged overtime that exceeded 15% of their regular pay, according to the report, with employees averaging about $23,000 each.
Nick Patsaouras, one of the DWP commissioners who requested the audit, said there are legitimate uses of overtime, such as during last summer's heat wave.
But he called into question the practice of paying employees for not being on the job.
"The abuse really outraged me -- someone not showing up for work and charging overtime," Patsaouras said. "They gamed the system."
The DWP's Board of Commissioners requested the report to determine whether, among other things, overtime was properly controlled and absences were contributing to excessive pay.
The audit found that some employees charged double-rate overtime for attending in-house training.
None of the overtime, the report also finds, was unauthorized.
DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo said the overtime occurred because the agency was understaffed and faced lax management over such areas as security and janitorial personnel.
"This [audit] is a good example of identifying waste and inefficiencies," Ramallo said. "This is part of turning the corner and a new day."
The audit's findings also came as a surprise to some City Council members, who learned of the findings Wednesday morning.
"Needless to say, I was shocked," said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who heads the city's Energy and Environment Committee. "Obviously, they've already been audited once, and if they are still out of compliance, that's a problem."
The DWP board ordered agency General Manager Ron Deaton to report back next month on how he plans to control the overtime.
Times staff writer Duke Helfand contributed to this report.