April 17, 2014

State auditor investigates state workers bowling meeting

An anonymous tip to the Nebraska State Auditors office leads to an investigation into the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Department. State Auditor Mike Foley says the tip stated that about a dozen workers were seen at the Sun Valley Lanes bowling alley for several hours on Friday, February 7th. Auditor Foley’s office did conduct an investigation and discovered that twelve DHHS and contractor employees were at the bowling alley for a meeting that took about an hour but then spent two hours bowling while on the taxpayer clock.

The Department of Health and Human Services responded to the investigation stating the group was attending an off-site meeting and recognition event at the bowling alley. The first hour was spent in a meeting and then the individuals did engage in bowling. They state the supervisor, who was a state contractor, instructed the team they could charge the hours to their team meeting time sheet entry. All the food, drink and bowling costs were paid by those attending and no alcohol was consumed.

The agency says prior to working as a state contractor, the supervisor of that group worked in the private sector where this sort of meeting or recognition event is common. However there are different policies in place regarding the public sector.

The statement also reports the DHHS Information Systems and Technology administrator did not have prior knowledge of the event or approve it. The administrator has spoken with the supervisor who was not aware this was inappropriate and apologized for the error. The contractors will be asked to change the hours to vacation or unpaid time. Foley says he was told the DHHS workers will be docked that pay.