Under fire for mismanaging its vehicle fleet, Caltrans was rapped anew on Monday for grossly overstating the number of jobs it created or preserved with federal stimulus money.
The criticism came from state Auditor Elaine Howle, who revealed the department's inflated numbers in a report.
In October, Caltrans told the federal government that it created or preserved 1,590 jobs with $26.7 million the department received earlier this year under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The stimulus bill requires all recipients of federal money to file quarterly job updates, reporting numbers of jobs created or saved by projects.
Howle's auditors found that Caltrans' jobs numbers were way off the mark.
A Caltrans Recovery Act program manager agreed, telling state auditors that "the actual number that should have been reported is roughly 1,200 created or retained jobs," Howle's report said.
Caltrans officials explained that they wrongly counted jobs created by some construction projects twice. Yet when state auditors scrutinized Caltrans project paperwork more closely, they found that its job numbers were overstated by as much as 56 percent.
Caltrans listed 680 stimulus-funded projects in its October quarterly report to the federal government, saying 152 projects created or retained at least one job.
Howle's auditors found that 94 of the 152 projects — which purportedly created or saved 892 jobs — hadn't yet spent any stimulus money, "raising reasonable questions as to whether the Recovery Act's impact is being overstated."
Caltrans spokesman Mark DeSio said officials merely followed federal guidelines for reporting the number of jobs created or preserved.
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