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The Department of Corrections is (still) a mess

Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

* Greg Bishop

A new two-year audit of the Illinois Department of Corrections found employee misuse of sick leave, vacation time and overtime, something that a prison watchdog said not only hurts taxpayers, but can put inmates and employees at risk.

The audit showed that the department made some improvements, including establishing a grievance system, but some findings have dogged the state agency for decades. For example, the audit noted the department still doesn’t have an automated payroll or timekeeping system, a finding repeated since 1998.

Yep. You read that right. From the audit

As has been reported since the Fiscal Year 1998 examination, each correctional center in the Department continued to maintain a manual timekeeping system for several hundred employees. Correctional center employees signed in and out, and these sheets were sent to the timekeeping clerk. Other information, including notification of absences and call-in reports, were also forwarded to timekeepers. […]

Due to the lack of an automated timekeeping system, the Department had encountered significant timekeeping and payroll weaknesses.

Ya think?

* Back to Greg’s story

Out of a sample of employees, auditors found 20 percent used a full day of leave at least once during the year the same day they worked an overtime shift.

From the audit

Department management stated generally the reason for employees taking paid leave time and working overtime on the same day is due to competing priorities and employee oversight.

The financial advantage of this practice from the employee’s perspective is that the employee is paid for the leave time shift at the usual rate for that day and then also paid for the overtime shift at 1.5 times the usual rate of pay on the same day. The financial effect on the State, however, is that not only does the State pay the employee at the overtime rate for the shift worked in addition to the regular rate for the leave time taken, but the State must also pay another employee overtime to cover the shift for which the leave time was used. This type of abuse of leave time may be an example of “shift swapping” in which employees knowingly use leave time and swap shifts in order to gain a financial advantage.

Sounds like we’re getting scammed.

* Back to Greg

The review found the department spent nearly $2 billion in fiscal year 2018, or nearly $700 million more than the year before. The inmate population declined from 45,817 to 41,704 over two years.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - golface18 - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 2:31 pm:

    This must be the agency Rauner spoke of that has no computers.


  2. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 2:34 pm:

    Wonder why the IPI didnt list some of this as cost savings. Old Blue volunteers to look into this matter.


  3. - lakeside - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 2:35 pm:

    ==Due to the lack of an automated timekeeping system==

    Can’t remember who wanted to automate some state jobs the other day, but here you go. Two birds. (This is not snark.)

    Is this suggesting that there is no kind of proximity ID card or handprint reader at DOC? Surely you’d want some way of knowing who was coming and going at facilities. And that would, surely, be tied into your timekeeping. Right?


  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    DCFS, DOC, IDOT, DNR…

    A problem at Corrections is one an administration tries to stop.

    Certain things like auto payroll or non-manual time sheets would be a nice start.

    This current administration could use this information wisely to not only correct some governing, the politics to it would be a nice change, given a place like DOC can be more of a negative in the aggregate.

    Gotta follow thru, but the map here is clear.


  5. - Anotheretiree - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 2:38 pm:

    I can recall taking time off the same day I worked overtime. Worked a full day…got called in for a problem at 10PM that night..worked till 4AM. Took the day off to sleep. Surprised Capitol Fax is agreeing with INN/IPI that I did wrong….


  6. - Dotnonymous - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    Immediate release of all non-violent cannabis prisoners…would reduce that artificial burden on the prison system…and bring some life back…to the walking dead.

    Mass incarceration worked…two million men and women in American prisons…now what?


  7. - Just Me 2 - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 2:53 pm:

    Sometimes an effort to save money results in costing more.


  8. - Blake - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 2:54 pm:

    If someone works a full Thursday, called in to work 10pm Thursday to 4am Friday & then takes Friday off to sleep is that counted as part of the 20%? IDOC does regularly have people who start the shift on a different day than they get off.

    Could part of the FY18 vs FY17 amounts be related to FY18 having a budget which FY17 never did?


  9. - AnitaThrowaway - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    One could argue this was embarrassing back in 1998; let alone 21 years later in 2019. Tons of opportunities for cost savings here as well as improvements in efficiencies through the use of automated systems. Highly doubtful this would end up costing us more than what we’d save. This should be an easy win


  10. - Jibba - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    Anotherretiree …and I bet you know of plenty of staff who game the system just like the article suggests.


  11. - Captain Obvious - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 3:20 pm:

    Don’t know how to break it to ya’ll but manual timekeeping is common at state agencies. I imagine the union would not be in favor of automation ad it would allow the state to do without some employees and save a little money. And if you don’t want people using paid time and collecting overtime in the same day that is also likely a union issue. No waste or abuse here so nothing to be outraged about, right?


  12. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 3:33 pm:

    Q: Why are law enforcement agencies so resistant to automated time keeping?

    A: Because then employees can’t game the system.

    Any bloggers out there in law enforcement have an argument to counter that?


  13. - Anotheretiree - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 3:37 pm:

    ==Jibba== Yes..human beings are not perfect and some will game the system. Quite a revelation you have there. MY revelation is that in nature, finding yourself agreeing with Bishop, is a warning sign to relook and rethink.


  14. - Jibba - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 3:52 pm:

    Anotherretiree….so you agree that there is a problem that needs fixing. The fact that some circumstances exist where that OT might be honest simply influences possible solutions, not whether action should be taken. Your personal experience is valuable insight in finding a solution that doesn’t create carry-on problems.


  15. - Rather B. Fishin - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 4:05 pm:

    I mean why wouldn’t we trust this agency to take care of human beings under their care?


  16. - Name Withheld - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 4:10 pm:

    Anotheretiree makes a good point - how much of the overtime was planned in advance and how much was an unexpected call to come in to work?

    It’s hard to fault someone for coming in when they’re called by management or a supervisor.

    That said - I remember the report from a year or so ago about DOC employees calling in around various events or holidays:

    https://capitolfax.com/2017/05/15/jailers-call-in-sick-force-another-mothers-day-lockdown/

    So it’s not out of the realm of possibility to ask the question again about gaming the system.


  17. - Alex Ander - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 4:16 pm:

    OK, I can see sick leave as an issue, but misuse of overtime and vacation? Higher ups are the ones that make the OT rosters out and vacation is pretty much a rigid schedule that can’t be deviated from.


  18. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 4:16 pm:

    ===about DOC employees===

    That was about Cook County.


  19. - work in progress - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 4:22 pm:

    The abuses highlighted in this post are only a fraction of the ways I observed overtime being manipulated at the institution I retired from.

    I was dumbfounded by some ways overtime was achieved or avoided.(fmla)

    I put more of the blame on management than the officers taking advantage of these loopholes.

    If staffing was not so woefully inadequate ( think day shift being 11 short before call offs)most of these tactics would disappear.


  20. - tired of politics - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 4:48 pm:

    IDOC is short over 1000 officers. Overtime will continue until the current staffing levels are addressed. Also, if you released every “non-violent cannabis user” in IDOC you would be lucky to fill one 13 passenger van.


  21. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 6:09 pm:

    People often forget, even to work overtime you have to get prior written permission unless it’s an emergency. You just can’t work over your hours and expect to get paid overtime.


  22. - Glengarry - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 7:11 pm:

    My current agency still has the same outdated payroll system. In fact all 5 of them have.


  23. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 7:44 pm:

    Maybe someone should get them the number for ADP?


  24. - oldhp - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 8:00 pm:

    In my 21 yrs of working for IDOC I have NEVER seen where you can have a scheduled paid day off “AND” work OT on the same day. Never. I have seen people mandated multiple days in a row because of short staffing. As far as timekeeping, the 2 institutions I worked at were correct down to the minute. I’m sure there are exceptions…….but I’ve never seen it.


  25. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Sep 19, 19 @ 8:04 pm:

    Loyal members of the union no doubt.


  26. - Adjutant - Friday, Sep 20, 19 @ 6:23 am:

    In my almost 10 years of state service I have seen many abuses of the benefit time/attendance/payroll system. I can personally speak for DCFS, DHS and IDVA.

    At DHS it was extremely common for folks to call off or use benefit time for their regular scheduled shift and then work another shift on a different unit. Supervisors were so desperate for bodies they would let them work it. This is really two different issues. The physical system (ie. non automated payroll system) and the process of awarding OT. My 2 cents is automated is not always better (sometimes quite time consuming) and the Administration needs to be tougher on the Union, they can and will abuse every policy they can.


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