Three high-ranking Caltrans executives said Friday they will pull out of a charity golf tournament scheduled for next week in Orange County, just a day after a state audit found a Caltrans engineer had been golfing when he should have been at work.
The engineer's use of paid time was something state officials began looking into after another agency employee initially blew the whistle.
That engineer was playing golf for several hours rather than working on 55 of his scheduled days over a year and a half period, the audit found.
State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Irvine) criticized the agency after the report was released.
“If you have 3,500 employees too many what else is there to do? Why not play golf?” he asked.
The tournament scheduled for Monday will be held at the private Dove Canyon Country Club. It is a charity event for the California Transportation Foundation, a group that raises money for children of fallen Caltrans workers.
But Moorlach also questioned the timing of the executives playing in the tournament after the release of the state audit.
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“You know, I don't mind that state employees participate in a golf tournament. I just think it’s inappropriate they do it on a work day,” he said.
Caltrans sent NBC4 a flier about the golf tournament which says "participation is voluntary on personal time."
The agency also said in a statement that all employees must fill out timesheets and activity logs, that "we expect a days work for a day’s pay."
But Moorlach said what the audit uncovered is a reflection of Caltrans' inability to cut costs and overhead.
“It's costing us three times the national average to build roads,” he said. “We've got $77,000 per mile in administrative costs and we have the fourth highest gas tax, but we have the worst roads in the country.”
Among those planning to attend golf tournament were Malcolm Dougherty, the director of Caltrans, and two of his executives. All three had planned to use vacation time.
Late Friday afternoon they announced they were pulling out completely.
“I say, ‘thank you,’ Moorlach said. “The right move.”