State audit criticizes sick leave monitoring at correctional facility

The state Auditor released an audit of the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional facility criticizing its sick leave monitoring, sewage contract oversight, and time-reporting accuracy.

The facility incarcerates offenders between the ages of 18 and 35, and the audit covered the period of July 2008 to January 2011.

The audit also recommended taking advantage of a shared service opportunity.

In a written response to the audit, Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan indicated they agreed with all of the findings and were working to correct them.

Garden State Youth Correctional Facility is adjacent to the Wagner facility, and there may be an annual savings of  $340,000  by combining patrol officer functions, the audit states.

Regarding sick leave usage in 2009, the audit disclosed that the average amount of time used by 450 custody employees was 14.3 days when 15 days a year are allotted.

The audit stated that of $3.4 million in overtime costs that year, about $2 million resulted from paid and unpaid sick leave.

“Even when the 15-day limit occurred,’’ the audit states, “the facility did not take a strong stand on reviewing employee sick time.”

Regarding the sewage agreement with Chesterfield Township, the audit states that although the township is supposed to share in the expenses of repairs and maintenance, facility management has not billed Chesterfield since the inception of the agreement in 2001.

The audit estimates that in 2009 the township’s share of expenses would have been at least $28,000.

The state recommends that the agreement be enforced and that attempts be made to collect past monies due.

According to the audit, the facility maintains its own sewage plant, but has a 20-year agreement to provide service to Chesterfield, which pays on a quarterly basis based on usage.

Regarding time reporting, the audit states it reviewed records to determine if any jobs that required one officer had multiple officers at the same time totaling at least 10 hours between them.

The audit states that this occurred over 1,300 times during 2009.

The audit states that it found instances in which officers called out sick but it was not reflected as such on a log.

In addition, the audit states it found nine officers received 26 hours of overtime overpayments due to recording errors, totaling $1,300.

In his response to the audit, Lanigan wrote that he agrees with the recommendation to more closely monitor the logs to prevent coding-related mistakes, agrees that Chesterfield should be billed for prior year costs and is drafting a letter to notify it of revised rates for fiscal year 2010, and  agrees that sick leave must be more closely monitored.

He stated that employees who abuse sick leave are disciplined, and that in 2010, 133 such “time and attendance’’ disciplinary charges were written. To date in 2011, 32 such charges have been written.






State audit criticizes sick leave monitoring at correctional facility