Lawmakers promised Thursday to investigate revelations that California's largest public pension fund has paid some salaried managers extra money for second in-house jobs, while other state departments tried to figure out if their employees have similar work arrangements.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, said they were disturbed about the California Public Employees' Retirement System's "additional appointments," particularly when California's unemployment rate remains high and state workers are still taking unpaid days off each month.
"The Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security will be looking further into this matter," a joint press release said. Bonta chairs that committee.
CalPERS then released its own statement, saying it understood the concerns of the two assemblymen and that it looked forward to "explaining why this human resource tool was important to CalPERS during a unique and critical time."
State officials at several departments combed their payroll records looking for additional appointees.
Pat McConahay, spokeswoman for the California Department of Human Resources, said only that officials there are "working with CalPERS to gather data on these appointments."
The Bee reported Thursday that some CalPERS managers earning fixed salaries have made extra money at second hourly-wage jobs within the agency since June 2011.
Crushing workloads created by the launch of a complex $514 million computer system forced the fund to resort to the practice, CalPERS officials said.
In November, the latest month for which data are available, CalPERS paid about $45,000 to 50 managers in the dual-job program.
Labor experts say the policy may run afoul of federal law and circumvents the notion that salaried employees earn a set wage regardless of how long they work.
CalPERS officials said the practice is legal and suggested other departments, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Social Services, the state prison and parole system and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, may have done the same.
The Bee reached officials at all four departments this week. The latter three said they would check whether they used double appointments, but none has responded.
A representative for the fourth department, the DMV, said agency officials "don't participate in a second-appointment program."
But later Thursday afternoon, the department did a U-turn.
"Our previous statement may have been premature," DMV spokesman Armando E. Botello said in an email. "We are conducting a more thorough review of our records to determine whether the situation has occurred."