SACRAMENTO (AP) — Data reviewed by The Sacramento Bee shows that more than two dozen departments are still using retired executives to fill some of the highest-paying positions in state government, the newspaper reported Sunday.
Despite an edict by the Brown administration last year to remove nearly all the retirees from the state workforce, an internal Department of Human Resources report showed in February that there were 75 retirees working in 26 departments holding so-called “career executive assignments,” The Bee said.
The assignments pay the retirees between $45 per hour to $75 per hour on top of the pensions they’re also receiving, but retired state employees are not allowed to work more than half-time hours in a given fiscal year and still draw their pensions.
More than a third of those assignments where retirees were working were in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which accounted for 28 of the 75 retirees on the state’s roster of career executives. Most held the title of chief deputy administrator, which pays $59.12 per hour — up to $56,755 annually if they work the maximum 960 hours allowed.
Scott Carney, administrative services director at the Department of Corrections, said by using retirees at the executive level, the agency takes advantage of much-needed skills and experiences as the department works through a court-ordered downsizing and reorganizes its system of 33 prisons.
“They have unique skill sets,” Carney told The Bee.
But the state correctional officers union, the Bureau of State Audits and several former human resources managers interviewed by The Bee question whether these high-level retired annuitants are doing the work that goes with the title and the pay.
“The current setup is wildly inappropriate,” said JeVaughn Baker, spokesman for California’s state correctional officers union. “If these are mission-critical management positions, then they should be filled by full-time people invested in the long-term success of the department.”
Gov. Jerry Brown had reached an agreement with the state’s biggest union that required that departments ax all but the most essential of the 5,800 or so “retired annuitants” who drew $110 million in pay from the state in 2011-12, on top of their pensions, with the governor writing in his budget summary that “only those that have been deemed critical to the department’s core mission will be retained.”
But the administration also exempted retirees whose termination would create a void that disrupts state business to the point of failure, cause the state to lose funding or put public safety or health at risk.
In January of this year, the state still employed 3,940 annuitants, The Bee said.