Forty percent of surveyed employees at Los Angeles County’s troubled child welfare agency improperly received mileage reimbursements from taxpayers on days they did not work.

The finding was based on a sample of reimbursement reports for 20 employees with high mileage claims examined by the county auditor controller, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Thirteen supervisors responsible for signing off on the reports acknowledged that they routinely did not review them first, the study found, according to The Times. The majority of reviewed reports vastly overstated the distance between travel points, and nearly half the reviewed reimbursement requests lacked basic information.

The department has 3,000 employees who use their personal vehicles for county business, and taxpayers reimbursed them $7.7 million during the last fiscal year alone, The Times reported.

Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe said in remarks quoted by The Times that “significant weaknesses” in reimbursement procedures had fostered fraud and “may have been prevented with proper management oversight.” But she cautioned that her audit was based on a “non-scientific sample” and said that the 20 reviewed employees had been selected because they had “historically higher than average amounts of mileage reimbursement requests.”