Wrong in all the right ways
Richard Krupp, Ph.D.
As June approaches I can look back at the job I left behind one year ago. After working in the CDC for 35 years, I was hired by former Secretary Jim Tilton to be the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Audits and Compliance. This was not something I had anticipated, having achieved some notoriety as a “whistleblower” after refusing to provide false data to the Bureau of State Audits. Many thought I was wrong for the new job. I had testified against the department before various Senate committees regarding problems during the Cal Terhune days. Oddly Rod Hickman and Jeanne Woodford continued harassing me, as if they had embraced the prior administrations’ efforts.
Before being picked to fill the audit job I had been selected to take over the Office of Substance Abuse Programs (OSAP) as Deputy Director following my “whistle blowing” efforts and a subsequent audit by the Inspector General. However, just before the job was official, the Governor’s office decided to hire someone else; an “expert” in drug treatment. I was asked to work as the second in command in OSAP, but did not think the new structure was something I wanted to be involved in. There was a great deal of interference coming from the Governor’s office so I turned down the job.
Though my experience with audits was minimal, I really fit in with the audit office and staff. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. They were forthright, dedicated, but under-appreciated. The head of the internal audit office needs to be independent and capable of telling high level executives things they don’t want to hear. Part of my role in the office was to run interference with internal and external power brokers, to allow the auditors to do what they did best, uncover problems and help improve operations while sometimes getting money back from contractors who had overcharged the state. During the three years I had the job, our office collected millions of dollars for the taxpayers.
I was also fortunate to be given the COMPSTAT function to redesign. We were able to turn a cumbersome process that mostly benefited Headquarters into a very robust system that made CDC a leader in performance management systems with the biggest benefit going to the field. We were able to build the system with existing resources in 90 days. COMPSTAT collected hundreds of pieces of data about institution and parole operations. This data was used to measure performance and made available to the public, on-line. The primary role I played was again to run interference.
Unfortunately the Governor’s office began to interfere to a greater degree when it became obvious that AB 900, a bill that provided bond money to build additional prison beds, was going nowhere fast. The “Program” area began to grow like a tumor, infecting all operations of the department. The drug treatment “expert” turned out to be more of a carnival barker or illusionist than an expert. There were a lot of promises being made by people with friends in the Governor’s office who did not feel constrained by facts. Millions of dollars were being thrown at programs that were worthless. Eventually a group of lawyers running the Inspector Generals’ office were appointed to run the CDC. Unfortunately solid coordination and direction was lacking. Maybe someone thought that a group of lawyers running the department would help with all the lawsuits. This was a monumental miscalculation and appears increasingly so, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision.
The new group may have wanted to be forthright, but there are always things that come up to test your resolve. The first test I recall involved an audit of a contractor who provided mentoring services to parolees. The department was paying lawyers to be friends with parolees. Turns out there were dinners at a Hooters restaurant, sleep-overs and various other problems. The audit was a no-brainer, but some concern about the report arose from the new CDC administration. Evidently the contractor group was a favorite of a Senator responsible for CDC executive appointment confirmations. Pressure was applied to tone down the report, in the tradition of the Terhune-era, but we released the report anyway. This would not be the only attempt to influence the audit process by the new CDC administration and called into question the reporting structure for the audit office.
The government Code is quite clear that there should be a direct reporting relationship from the internal audit office to the Secretary, but that was ignored by the new “lawyer-leader” CDC administration. I can imagine this violation of the Government Code has caused additional problems since I left. Interference with the audit process only serves to keep things in the shadows and hidden from the public. Problems cannot be fixed unless they see the light of day.
In order to be successful, the internal audit office head needs the strength and will to pursue the facts and have unfettered access to the CDC Secretary. In turn, the Secretary needs the strength of character to make decisions based on the best interests of the CDC and the taxpayers and not political pressures. When I retired a shady, malleable, disbarred lawyer/former civil addict was selected to replace me. This foolish decision reflects poorly on those that selected my replacement and those who approved. It is doubtful the leadership provided by a former prison inmate working in the shadows would benefit the Office of Audits and Compliance or for that matter the CDC or the taxpayers. Maybe it is time to move the “lawyer leaders” out of the department. Time will tell; maybe I am wrong.