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California auditor says some cost-cutting ideas ignored

February 12, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, California Auditor Elaine Howle complained that state agencies have taken no action to implement 15% of the recommendations made by her office in the last two years to cut costs.
In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, California Auditor Elaine Howle complained… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

California Auditor Elaine Howle complained Tuesday to Gov. Jerry Brown that state agencies have taken no action to implement 15% of the recommendations made by her office in the last two years to cut costs, including waste and fraud, in government operations.

The auditor has made 609 recommendations for improvements to several state agencies that if implemented "could realize more than $1.5 billion in monetary benefits," Howle wrote to the governor.

She said agencies assert they have fully implemented 270 and partially implemented 129 of the recommendations. "However, for the remaining 210 recommendations, we determined that entities have taken no action for 95, and corrective action is pending for 115 recommendations," she said.

One audit in August 2012 found the California Department of Transportation was charging below-market rents for homes purchased by the state as part of the project to eventually extend the 710 Freeway, forfeiting about $3.8 million per year.

Caltrans has partially implemented the recommendation, telling Howle’s office that it is in the process of raising the rents. However, Howle said the agency has not taken action to properly account for benefits provided to some state employees in the form of housing in some of the 710 homes.

Caltrans spokeswoman Tamie McGowen said progress has been made since Howle's auditors last talked to the agency. "Caltrans is taking action on all of the auditor’s recommendations. Within a week, Caltrans will provide the auditor with a six-month status update containing the most current information," McGowen said.

A spokeswoman for the governor said he is committed to pursuing changes to save money. ``The work of cutting waste, fraud and abuse is never done,'' said spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford. ``We’re focused on it every day.''

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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