The State Department of Correction has paid its employees excessive overtime and union leave while neglecting training requirements and annual performance reviews, according to a recent audit report from the state.
According to the report, which reviewed the activities of the Department of Correction for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, documentation was either missing or not properly approved for 72 of the 124 hours of compensatory time that the auditors reviewed. The auditors also found instances of undocumented medical leave and a lack of documentation and overpayments for workers earning overtime.
In particular, the auditors discovered 122 employees who earned a total of $1.2 million in overtime despite exceeding the maximum pay grade.
“Overtime earned by exempt employees resulted in noncompliance with the bargaining contract and improper overtime payments,” the auditors wrote. The auditors have found problems with compensatory time and union leave documentation in four prior audits, and problems with overtime documentation in two prior audits.
The Department of Correction agreed with all of these findings.
“Facility supervisors will be reminded of the proper procedures and collectively bargained responsibilities regarding overtime and the overtime process. Additionally, the agency’s Operations Unit will begin conducting quarterly facility audits to ensure compliance with all requirements,” the agency said in their report.
The auditors also found evidence of underpayments totaling $2,126 for workers’ compensation for three employees. The Department of Correction has since paid the employees.
Union leave payments were another concern; the auditors discovered one case in which an employee took 135 days of leave in 2018 and 184 days of leave in 2019, which the auditors said appeared to be excessive. The agency agreed with this finding as well.
“The department is not where they need to be in terms of processing and oversight,” John Geragosian, the auditor of public accounts, told CT Examiner on Wednesday.
Training, Evaluations, Parole Officers
Auditors Geragosian and Clark Chapin also found evidence that employees lacked training and were promoted or hired without the proper documentation on file.
Out of the 10 employees pulled for the audit, seven had not completed the required annual training for Department of Correction employees — 40 hours for employees in direct contact with inmates, and 16 hours for employees with “non-direct contact.”
The audit found that six of ten employees who they reviewed received an annual increase in salary without any evaluation on file confirming that their job performance was satisfactory.
“The department does not have a unified system for tracking and monitoring employee training requirements,” the auditors wrote, adding that this problem was noted in three prior reports.
Additionally, of seven individuals who were promoted, all of them received their promotions before being officially approved by the Department of Administrative Services.
The Department of Correction disagreed with this finding.
“While there is undoubtedly opportunity to continue to improve our staffing processes, all hires and promotions are documented as well as vetted with, and approved by the hiring manager, human resources and affirmative action,” the department wrote.
The audit also found that parole officers were not properly documenting their usage of state vehicles or daily activities, which the report said could lead to “an increased risk of abuse of state time and resources.” The agency agreed with this finding.
Failure to File Reports, No Public Safety Committees, Medication
The General Assembly requires the Department of Correction to submit reports on its activities. For the 2018-19 audit period, 25 of the 45 required reports were not submitted.
The department failed to file reports detailing, among other things, the number of inmates requiring mental health services, the number of inmates in high security status, the number of people being electronically monitored while in the community, the number of children being removed from school settings because of behavior and the use of restraints on youth in custody.
It also did not file quarterly reports listing the number of inmate disciplinary reports, the number of inmate assaults on custodial staff or other inmates, the inmate population density or the workers compensation claims being filed by employees.
“Obviously, there’s a reason for these reporting requirements,” Geragosian told CT Examiner. “It’s for the General Assembly and the public to have the information they need.”
The agency said in the report that it had “drafted a tracking system” for reporting requirements but that the pandemic had sidelined their efforts.
“The agency is in the process of reassigning responsibilities to finalize the log and identifying an appropriate unit to maintain moving forward,” the agency stated.
And while the department is required to establish public safety committees and advisory committees in municipalities where correctional facilities are located, seven of the 11 municipalities — New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford, Uncasville, Brooklyn, Niantic and Suffield — have neither of these committees.
According to the report, not having these committees “increases the risk that correctional safety and security issues are not identified and appropriately addressed.”
The auditors also found that medications had been administered to inmates at the wrong times — out of 837 administrations of medication to 10 inmates, 237 were administered either early or late, and 29 without any time record. The department agreed with this finding, and said it would take a series of actions to correct the problem, including quarterly and monthly pharmacy audits and reviewing and updating its policies around medication variance.