Audit: Ohio workers comp contractors paid for hours they didn’t work

Two contractors at the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation were paid for nearly 250 hours they didn’t work, according to a state audit released Tuesday.

Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber issued a finding for recovery — an order that misspent money be repaid — totaling more than $26,000 against company Guidesoft Inc. and contractors Gowtham Andrajula and Pema Dechen.

“We all expect to get what we pay for, but in this case it’s painfully obvious that Ohioans did not,” said Faber in a release. “These contractors padded their paychecks with Ohio tax dollars for work they simply did not perform and now they are being held to account for their misdeeds.”

Andrajula and Dechen worked in downtown Columbus as IT consultants for Simin Solutions Inc., a Central Ohio software firm contracted by Guidestar to provide services to BWC, according to the auditor of state’s office.

In May 2020, the Ohio Inspector General’s Office received an anonymous tip that the two were spotted away from the office during working hours. This led to a review of their timesheets, electronic keycard data, and video security footage at the William Green Building where they worked.

BWC determined the two contractors “were away from their desks for significant periods of time throughout their workdays” when they were clocked in “on BWC time,” according to the Inspector General’s Office.

The auditor’s office confirmed that Andrajula was improperly paid for more than 121 hours, totaling $14,151; and Dechen was improperly paid $12,251 for more than 126 hours, according to the auditor’s office.

The companies involved are working with BWC to arrange repayment, according to the Inspector Generals’ Office.

The findings were forwarded to local prosecutors for further review.

BWC spokeswoman Kim Norris said they are pleased the agency itself received a clean audit report.

“(We) are working to recover the funds that were identified,” she said.

The companies identified in the audit did not return messages seeking comment.

“It’s crucial that Ohio’s agencies have strong checks in place to help ensure that those that have larceny on their mind are not given the opportunity to steal from hardworking Ohioans,” Faber said.

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