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Veteran's affairs director responds to report of misuse of state property and ghost employment

IDVA employee used state computer to make money
Posted at 5:48 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 17:48:54-05

INDIANAPOLIS— The Indiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs director responded Tuesday to a state report that found ghost employment and misuse of state property within his agency.

The Indiana Office of Inspector General received an anonymous complaint in December 2019 alleging an IDVA employee spent much of her workday using her state-issued computer to watch videos and take online surveys in exchange for money.

The Indiana State Personnel Department (SPD) conducted an internal investigation into the allegations in coordination with IDVA, and SPD provided the Office of Inspector General its investigative report of the matter.

The state determined that the IDVA employee used her state-issued computer during the workday to visit websites that allowed her to earn points for completing surveys and streaming videos.

A special agent with the Office of Inspector General determined that the IDVA employee earned approximately 29,631 points during her IDVA working hours, which is approximately 61% of her total points earned.

“Accordingly, the Employee earned approximately $294.50 ($482.78 x 61%) from the Company for streaming videos and completing surveys during her state working hours,” read the report.

State policy allows for limited, personal use on state computers and the use must be infrequent, of short duration, and in general made on the state employee’s personal time.

IDVA suspended the employee without pay for misuse of state equipment and for personal gain while on state time, and required her to attend training upon her return.

IDVA director Dennis Wimer addressed the case at a Senate committee meeting Tuesday morning.

"I’d say this is an example of what we want to do,” said Wimer. “Not everybody is perfect. There are going to be issues, there will be challenges with staff. Things happen. We need to be able to address them."

The State Ethics Commission agreed with IDVA’s decision to suspend the employee involved.

“If you read that whole report, what that shows is us actually being public and open about our job,” Wimer told senators. “Not everybody sits in their office and does everything perfect every day. There are mistakes that were made, and we addressed the multiple levels in that case.”

Wimer told senators the anonymous complaint "took awhile to investigate."

"The inspector general went into computer records, went into other external records, so it was not an easy process," said Wimer. "It was not something that we felt we could just cover over."

In 2018, WRTV Investigates uncovered IDVA gave out Military Family Relief Fund benefits beyond the $2,500 limit including to IDVA’s own employees.

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Wimer took over after the scandal, in 2019.

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