Los Angeles: The Poster City for Finding New Ways to Waste Money

I’ve got the hometown blues…

Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power has paid thousands of employees a total of $35.5 million since 2010 in extra sick days under an unusual program that the utility’s top executive acknowledges has been vulnerable to abuse.

DWP employees benefit from a 32-year-old policy that allows them to take paid days off well beyond the agency’s 10-day-a-year cap on sick days. Last year, 10% of the department’s roughly 10,000 employees took at least 10 extra days off, the data show. More than 220 took an extra 20 working days off, or about a month, according to a Times examination of data obtained under the California Public Records Act.

In fact, records and interviews show, there is no limit to the paid time off DWP employees can take when they say they’re sick, and requirements to provide medical proof of their illness have been loosely enforced.


So there’s a cap, but it’s not really a cap and even if it were there aren’t any rules. And there are probably three hundred pages devoted to describing this in LADWP’s HR manual. At least the lawyers are making some bank.

Even in a city this size-and especially for a city this broke-$35.5 million is no small amount to chuck down the toilet. One generally has to go to the federal level of bureaucracy to find something this ridiculous but it does serve to prove that, if it is efficiency you’re looking for, any government involvement doesn’t help.


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