Matthew Lickona 8 p.m., Dec. 17
Racy employees using taxpayers' wheels, county audit finds
Outed by electronically eavesdropping auditors, manager pledges a deal with public employee unions for crackdown on workers' on-the-job speeding
While politicos here have been taking their licks in the scandals of San Diego - city of partying newspaper publishers, warm beaches, hot cars, and even hotter sexual matters - some county workers have been doing a different kind of speeding.
An audit of the county's vehicle fleet management operation has discovered that some public employees aren't exactly conservative when it comes to getting behind the wheel.
The unwary workers have been reportedly racing around, burning up gas and allegedly endangering the local citizenry, apparently blissfully unmindful of fancy new computer systems installed on some taxpayer-owned vehicles that track and store away for future review virtually every movement the cars make.
Says the audit:
Approximately 430 of the 3,900 County owned vehicles are equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) devices that alert management when a vehicle is speeding.
Using GPS reports, [Office of Audits and Advisory Services] noted the following occurrences in a 30 day period:
• Nine vehicles reached speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour a total of 13 times.
• County vehicles reached speeds of 85 miles per hour or more over 100 times.
• County vehicles reached speeds of 80 miles per hour or more over 650 times.
• County vehicles reached speeds of 75 miles per hour or more over 2,900 times.
Continues the report:
In many instances, management also receives these speeding alerts. However, there is no specific policy to direct management on what they can and should do in these situations.
As a result, County employees are speeding in County vehicles with management’s knowledge and with no clear disciplinary consequences.
Additionally, the County’s liability is significantly increased if an employee with a record of speeding with management’s knowledge is involved in an accident resulting in one or more injuries.
There should be controls in place to prevent employees from violating the California Vehicle Code, detect such violations, and outline disciplinary steps for noncompliance.
The audit, dated April 8 and subsequently posted online by the county auditor's office, goes on to call out a series of additional issues with the fleet, including computer access ("Five individuals that are either retired or have transferred to a position that does not require M4 access had M4 access'), and the "Timeliness of Vehicle Procurement Process."
Responding to the audit's findings, General Services department director April Heinze wrote that the county was working on a deal with its public employee organizations to specifically ban excessive speed while on the job.
Human Resources-Labor Relations is in the process of negotiating a provision into the Memorandum of Agreement with County employee organizations which will clarify that violating posted speed limits while driving a County vehicle is subject to the County disciplinary process.
According to Heinze's April letter, the new arrangements are set to be in place by the end of next month.
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