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Audit: Corrections department failed to pre-approve overtime, abide by policies limiting hours worked

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State corrections officials failed to ensure compliance with overtime policies and in some cases could not provide documentation for hours worked.

The findings are part of a 27-page review of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services released by the Office of Legislative Audits. The review covers the period of April 1, 2018 to June 21, 2022.

All the findings in the report occurred during Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s second term.

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Carolyn J. Scruggs acknowledged the findings.

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Carolyn Scruggs. File photo by Bryan P. Sears.

“We appreciate the constructive findings and recommendations that were made as the result of this audit,” Scruggs wrote in a letter included in the audit report.

In her response, Scruggs vowed to correct the deficiencies.

The audit found that in some cases, overtime worked by employees had not been pre-authorized as required.

In calendar year 2022, the department had a payroll of nearly $762 million. That includes nearly $146 million in overtime, roughly 19% of the budgeted payroll.

Auditors tested 16 employees at eight Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services facilities. All had “significant overtime activity.” The review included two pay periods in September and December of 2021.

More than 540 hours of overtime for five employees totaling $21,434 was not pre-approved.

Three more employees were paid nearly $13,000 for more than 300 hours of overtime for training that lacked pre-authorization or documentation backing up the employees’ activities, according to the report.

Auditors also found evidence that the agency allowed employees to work excessive overtime in violation of department policy and union agreements.

“We were advised by DPSCS management that the main factors contributing to the significant overtime hours worked include the facilities requiring 24-hours per day staffing, correctional officer staffing shortages, and employees being allowed to earn overtime on days they use leave (other than sick leave),” auditors wrote.

Time records for more than 6,000 employees found 6.773 instances where more than 1,100 employees were paid for working more than 80 hours of overtime in a two-week pay period, according to the audit.

Nearly 90 employees were paid for 81-103 hours of overtime in a pay period, according to the audit.

The findings were similar to a preceding audit.

“In response to that report, DPSCS agreed to implement the related recommendations by April 2019,” auditors wrote. “However, DPSCS management explained that during our current audit they could not enforce existing policies or maintain the related controls, because of correctional officer staffing shortages.”

Auditors also raised concerns about the accuracy of timekeeping records. In a test of 16 employees at eight facilities, the report noted concerns about nearly $95,000 of $142,843 in gross pay. The review was unable to find documentation for nearly 2,400 hours worked by 13 employees.

“As a result, there was a lack of assurance that information recorded in the timekeeping system and the related payroll disbursements for these employees was accurate,” auditors wrote.

The audit findings are separate from a U.S. Department of Labor settlement approved earlier this month by the Board of Public Works. In that case, the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division found the state engaged in wage theft as it related to overtime.

Maryland paid more than $13 million to current and former corrections employees to settle the claims.

Union leaders representing the state’s correctional officers said the figure was “the second largest wage theft settlement for correctional officers in United States history.”


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Audit: Corrections department failed to pre-approve overtime, abide by policies limiting hours worked