California's 150 or so agencies, departments, boards, offices and commissions routinely transfer employees between positions without changing their job titles or pay. Most are legitimate, such as when an employee shifts from one program to another.
But, as a Bee analysis of state transfer data shows, thousands of employee moves appear designed to hold on to vacant positions -- and tens of millions of dollars of budgeted money tied to them. State law forbids such transactions.
State workers who are moved around aren't breaking the law. They may not even know they've been "transferred."
This searchable database shows non-promotional state employee transfers for fiscal 2010-11 through 2012-13. Many were legal. Some were not. State workers can see if they were moved between positions.
Where is the data from? In response to a Bee request, the State Controller's Office provided thousands of records listing non-promotional employee transfers. In 2012-13, for example, there were 53,819 positions that had transfers – some of them more than once – for total transfers of more than 66,000. The transfer data shows multiple instances of state employees getting new position numbers but retaining the same job title in a fiscal year. The “transfers” sometimes occurred within days of each other.
How much money did the maneuvers artificially keep attached to positions that were vacant? It was impossible to tell because departments refused to answer The Bee's questions about specific transfers. So The Bee took the most conservative approach and tallied average 2013 total wages for each position involved in three or more transfers in 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13. That added up to about $80 million.