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Sheriff loses track of vacation hours

An accountability report released by the Washington State Auditor’s Office Monday found that the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office didn’t adequately control its employee leave system.

The lack of control led to the misappropriation of 1,166 hours of leave for 110 of the office’s 115 employees. Some employees were given extra unearned paid leave and others were not credited enough.

The report showed one employee received nearly 250 more hours of annual leave than that employee had earned, an equivalent of $8,700. Another employee received 43 extra unearned leave hours, or the equivalent of $1,505.

Auditors noted that the timekeeper was manually making leave adjustments without reason and was adjusting employee’s leave allowance without recording it in the timekeeping system. On top of this, the timekeeper failed to reconcile the timekeeping system and financial system.

Prior to the audit, the responsibilities for this system fell on the shoulders of one employee, who was reportedly mismanaging the system. The auditor’s report stated the Sheriff’s Office failed to provide adequate oversight for the timekeeper to ensure leave was properly recorded.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the employee who was in charge of timekeeping was removed from her post in May 2012 and assigned to a “less complex” position. She was later removed from this new assignment as well, however.

In its response to the auditor’s report, the Sheriff’s Office stated that the timekeeper had been purposefully obstructing the county’s ability to discover the mistakes she was making.

“Our original timekeeper was making numerous errors and concealing the mistakes from the agency,” the Sheriff’s Office said in its response to the report. “We soon discovered that she continued making numbers errors in her new assignment and again was attempting to conceal them from the Sheriff’s Office.”

Sheriff Deputy Scott Wilson said the employee was removed from her second post and placed on administrative assignment in October. Wilson said the employee is still on administrative assignment as an investigation continues to determine what caused and perpetuated the missteps.

While on administrative assignment the former timekeeper is not performing any duties but continues to be paid by the county, according to Wilson.

The auditor’s report states: “For the past four audits, we have recommended the Sheriff’s Department strengthen internal controls over how it tracks employee leave.”

Deputy Auditor Matt Miller said the State Auditor’s Office gives three levels of severity for its reports: exit items are the lowest, then management items, and then filing charges.

An exit item is a recommendation the auditors make in an exit interview that wasn’t serious enough to warrant a write-up, Miller said. An example of a management item would be the current issue with the Sheriff’s office discrepancies.

Since no record shows in the prior audits, Miller said the recommendation to strengthen internal controls was likely mentioned in the last four audits as an exit item.

Wilson said the leave discrepancies were discovered by the Sheriff’s Office in late 2011 and were brought to the attention of the county auditor. The Sheriffs office then worked with auditors to examine leave time accruals dating back to 2009, when a new timekeeping system, KRONOS, was implemented.

The Sheriff’s Office received the auditor’s report in November. The new timekeeper now works in the county auditor’s office, verifies all leave every two weeks.

According to Wilson, the Sheriff’s Office has reconciled the leave discrepancies with all affected employees and has implemented all of its proposed changes. The internal investigation into the timekeeper’s negligence, however, is ongoing.

 

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