The State Worker

California tax board makes a sudden director switcheroo

David Gau has been appointed executive director of the California Board of Equalization.
David Gau has been appointed executive director of the California Board of Equalization. Photo courtesy of Board of Equalization

The California Board of Equalization has assigned its executive director to a temporary role and promoted her No. 2 to fill the vacancy.

Cynthia Bridges, who was appointed executive director in June 2012, will continue to work as a consultant through June 30. David Gau, the agency’s chief deputy director, has been promoted to executive director.

Both moves were announced by Chairwoman Fiona Ma following a closed board session on March 30 that included “discussion and action on personnel matters,” according to the board’s agenda.

$60 billionRevenue that the Board of Equalization collects annually from business taxes, sales taxes and other sources.

Bridges’ slow-motion departure comes after a tough year for the board. In November, an audit blasted the BOE, which collects and processes $60 billion in tax payments annually, for incorrectly sending $47.8 million in retail sales taxes to the state’s general fund. That, in turn, shorted other funds that should have received the money.

The agency also was found lax on employee travel accounting with little management oversight, according to the audit.

Bridges was generally seen as an ally of Jerome Horton, who recently lost the chairmanship of the board after an acrimonious 3-2 vote gave the position to Ma. Last week’s meeting was the first in Sacramento with the new chairwoman in charge.

Gau’s promotion caps a career with the BOE that started in 1981 as an auditor and manager. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in accounting. Gau earned certifications as a public accountant and property tax appraiser.