DPSS has had an Internal Affairs (IA) Unit since 1970 when it was established to investigate allegations of employee wrongdoing and/or systems abuse where there may be systems manipulation and abuse for personal gain. The IA Unit has adopted an aggressive program to make DPSS a public service agency free from employee fraud, and free of employees who fail to act with integrity and ethical behavior.
What is the purpose the IA Unit?
The mission of the IA Unit is:
- to ensure internal security and integrity of the Department's payment and ancillary systems,
- to investigate reports of inappropriate employee conduct in the performance of their duties, and
- to prevent, through investigation and review, any continuing wrongdoing, and to ensure the integrity of employee services.
How is the IA Unit staffed?
DPSS currently has one Administrative Services Manager I (ASM) who supervises a unit consisting of nine Administrative Investigators. Another ASM I also supervise two of the nine Administrative Investigators who are responsible for handling monitoring activities for the Department. All of the IA staff is housed at the Human Resources Division.
As a result of heightened awareness of employee fraud and the need for internal employee detection and deterrence, we initiated an interagency agreement in 1998 with the District Attorney's Public Integrity Division (DA/PID) to provide a unit dedicated to handling employee fraud throughout the Department. The DA/PID investigators are housed at 320 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
DPSS currently has a workforce of 12,994 employees. We currently have 9 investigators. This results in a ratio of 1:1444, which is above the State recommended ratio of 1 investigator per 1,000 employees.
What are the types of referrals received by the IA Unit?
The following represent a cross section of referrals:
- abuse of authority/intimidation (e.g., using one's position to manipulate a participant or employee).
- misappropriation of internal funds (i.e., stealing public money, negotiables).
- sexual harassment of applicants/participants.
- conflict of interest (e.g., an employee living with a participant).
- breach of confidentiality (e.g., using confidential participant information for personal gain, or sharing a confidential password for computer access).
- falsification of employment applications, workers' compensation claims, examination records, timecards, and internal records.
- systems abuse (e.g., embezzlement).
- unreported employment or earnings (e.g., part-time work exceeding the 24 hour/week limit).
- gambling on duty or on County property.
- extortion of funds from participants; solicitation of bribes.
- drug/alcohol sales on County property.
- inappropriate, dishonest and/or criminal conduct.
What are the sources of referrals?
Referrals are received from the following sources:
- DPSS District Directors and Management
These referrals are normally initiated as a result of some indication or suspicion that an employee is/has engaged in some type of wrongdoing or inappropriate conduct.
- Welfare Fraud Prevention & Investigations (WFP&I) Section
These referrals are initiated as a result of informant calls reporting employee wrongdoing on the Central Fraud Reporting Line maintained by the WFP&I Section. Occasionally, during a routine welfare fraud investigation, WFP&I Section will discover evidence implicating a DPSS employee in wrongdoing and refer the case to the IA Unit.
- Auditor-Controller (A-C)
These referrals are from anonymous informant calls to the Los Angeles County Employee Fraud Hotline reporting employee fraud or wrongdoing. Referrals from the A-C are of two types, regular Hotline Referrals and Administrative Reviews
The difference between the regular Hotline Referral and the Administrative Review is the manner in which each referral is investigated.
- Regular Hotline Referral - This type of referral is investigated by the IA Unit as a regular investigation. The allegations investigated in this type of investigation include theft, systems abuse, fraud, living with participants, and soliciting or receiving kickbacks.
- Administrative Review Referral - This type of referral is forwarded to the appropriate Division Chief with a request for administrative staff to evaluate and investigate the allegations at the district/section where the employee is assigned. The allegations investigated in this type of referral include time abuse, and unauthorized use of County supplies or equipment.
Los Angeles Eligibility Automation Determination Evaluation and Reporting (LEADER) system clearance of incoming employees.
DPSS Intranet Security Cross Match Report (DISCRS).
Law enforcement notification of employee wrongdoing.
Other County departments regarding DPSS employee wrongdoing.
Anonymous complaints, complaints from the public, participant complaints, and outside agencies.
How does the DPSS IA Unit operate?
The DPSS IA Unit operates as a centralized reactive unit, receiving and investigating complaints of employee wrongdoing. Investigators work objectively and independently. Activities they perform include the following:
- conduct in-depth interviews of witnesses and employees, using affidavits, to collect relevant information.
- review documents and computer system(s) information to confirm wrongdoing.
- use collateral contacts and other resources such as law enforcement agencies, the Department of Motor Vehicles, banking institutions, Immigration and Naturalization Service, previous employers, etc.
- perform field surveillance to obtain additional information of wrongdoing.
- confront suspected employees regarding misconduct or fraudulent activity.
- refer all employee fraud cases involving criminal activity to the DA/PID for criminal investigation.
- work with other law enforcement agencies in conducting investigations when appropriate.
- testify at various venues, such as the Civil Service Commission or Superior Court.
Upon completion of the investigation, the findings are referred to DPSS Internal Affairs Civil Service Representative for the determination of the appropriate discipline action, and to the Auditor-Controller's Office of County Investigations Unit.
What Red Flags should an Eligibility Worker look for to identify potential employee fraud?
Case files can be a major indicator:
- Numerous duplicate folders.
- Cases suspiciously assigned to same worker.
- Cases handled with slight manipulation or deviation from normal process.
- Missing documents, or missing required documentation
- Documents showing payee or address changes missing.
- Verification of payee or address change missing.
- Narratives do not reflect the case.
- Discrepancies between inventory records and physical inventory.
Inappropriate case handling:
- Case in intake too long.
- Suspicious contacts with the applicant/participant.
- Preferential treatment given - possible friend, relative, co-conspirator.
- Benefits approved without required verification.
- Documents not properly signed, initialed, or countersigned.
If employee fraud is suspected, what are the recommended steps to take?
Employees can report suspected employee fraud to their supervisor, or to their district/section management. Employees should not attempt to independently investigate or confirm wrongdoing. Sometimes, valuable evidence can be lost or the suspected employee inadvertently alerted.
Employees can also make anonymous referrals to the the Auditor-Controller's Employee Fraud Hotline at (800) 544-6861, or (213) 293-1413. Written referrals can be sent to 1000 S. Fremont Avenue, Unit 51, Building A9 East, Alhambra, CA 91803. Fax: (626) 457-9797.