Inspector questions Calif. stimulus spending

December 22, 2009 7:36:36 PM PST
A state inspector general is blowing the whistle on California. She claims state bureaucrats are misleading taxpayers on how stimulus funds are being spent and she is putting Sacramento on notice that her teams are just beginning their stimulus spending review.

California signed up unqualified people for health coverage under Medi-Cal. The state Employment Development Department mixed stimulus money with normal federal funding, so the agency cannot really say whether stimulus money was used as intended. And Caltrans overstated the number of jobs the stimulus saved or created by nearly 400.

Those are just some of the waste and mismanagement spelled out in the new State Auditor's report.

"Certainly, it's pre-emptive, in that we're trying to get out there at a time before a lot of the stimulus money has been received," Chief Deputy State Auditor Doug Cordiner said.

Only $8 billion of the scheduled $85 billion dollars has come into the state from Washington, so there is time for California to fix the problems before the bulk of the money comes in.

Inspector General Laura Chick was recently appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger to make sure that stimulus money is spent properly.

"What they're saying is the state isn't doing a great job of watching the people's money," Chick said.

Chick is especially annoyed the problems found in past audits of California's federal monies are happening with stimulus spending, a sign that the culture of bureaucracy is hard to change in Sacramento.

"It's discouraging to know these are repeat findings, that the state auditor keeps saying the same things year after year and the problem doesn't get fixed," she said.

Chick will be getting what she calls 'Strike Teams' next month -- auditors who will help departments change their ways to have greater accountability.


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