Audit finds Irwindale-based LA Works overbilled Los Angeles County by nearly $1 million
By Richard Irwin, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 05/21/14, 5:15 PM PDT | Updated: on 05/21/2014
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to end a contract with LA Works in Irwindale.
Audits done for the board discovered the agency overcharged the county nearly $1 million for job training of unemployed residents and jail inmates. Supervisor Gloria Molina led the charge.
“While I respect the Sheriff’s duty to manage the inmate population, this board, as elected representatives, are the fiscal watchdogs for the taxpayers’ money,” Molina said. “Given the significant overbilling issues identified in the auditor-controller’s multiple audits, it is not in the county’s best interest to extend the existing contract with LA Works beyond its current expiration date.”
The current contract will expire at the end of May. Molina asked the Sheriff’s Department to begin immediate negotiations with another provider to continue career technical education and life skills to inmates. The other supervisors concurred, with Don Knabe absent.
In an audit, the county controller had questioned $871,920 paid by the Department of Community and Senior Services for job training from LA Works.
“LA Works billed Community and Senior Services for on the job training (OJT) for individuals that were not eligible for program services,” the audit reported.
“For example, LA Works inappropriately enrolled nurses employed at two hospitals and earning $32 per hour into the OJT program. As stated earlier, employed individuals are only eligible for intensive services and OJT if their earnings are below $11.84 per hour.”
The audit reported that 85 percent of the OJT participants interviewed said they got job offers without any help from LA Works. They hadn’t even met with LA Works’ representatives before their job orientations at the two unidentified hospitals.
Since July of 2009, LA Works has reportedly enrolled 173 nurses in the OJT program. LA Works paid 25 percent of the nurses’ salaries.
The auditor calculated that every nurse was paid $32 an hour and worked 630 hours in the OJT period. Since they were ineligible, the auditor estimated LA Works “inappropriately” billed the county $871,920.
In addition, the audit found LA Works did not maintain complete agreements in 75 percent of the case files reviewed.
“Due to the severity of our audit findings, we question the validity of the entire amount OJT billed by LA Works for these hospitals.”