NC Motor Fleet Management under fire for not keeping adequate track of distribution of state-owned vehicles

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A state agency under fire by the auditor for not keeping adequate track of the distribution and use of state-owned automobiles was called before lawmakers Monday to explain what it has done to fix things.

North Carolina has thousands of state owned vehicles that are issued to scores of state agencies.

The Department of Administration’s Motor Fleet Management agency is supposed to keep track of those cars.

However, a scathing report by the state auditor released last October said the motor fleet failed in its responsibility.

“The findings we had on this audit were just unimaginable,” state Auditor Beth Wood told the legislature’s Joint Oversight Committee. “We found people assigned to a vehicle that hasn’t worked for the state for 10 years.”

Rep. Mark Brody, a Republican from Union was aghast.

“How in the world does a person get a car for 10 years?” he asked.

Wood said it was “Because no one is doing the change.” She said, “When someone leaves an agency, they still have the car but no one is informing the motor fleet the person would no longer be there.”

She said her audit found that was not an uncommon situation. Wood said her staff found a number of people who left state government who still had state cars assigned to them.

Lawmakers asked Motor Fleet Director Robert Riddle what was done to fix things.

“Since July, motor fleet has processed over 1,000 change of assignment requests,” he said.

That means they’re keeping better track of who is driving state cars. But that wasn’t the only problem highlighted in the audit. The report also hit the motor fleet division for lack of oversite about: 

  • State agencies failing to comply with vehicle assignment and use policies 
  • Not reporting underutilization of state vehicles 
  • Not ensuring that there was the consistent use of proper reimbursement rates for employees who commuted in state cars. 

The agency claimed it now has systems in place to automatically report car odometer readings instead of relying on paper logs.

It also said it has updated its internal website for state agencies to make sure the motor fleet can be reached by phone, email, or online.

Riddle said motor fleet also cleaned up its system data.

Lawmakers asked Wood what she thought of the changes.

“The response to our audio report looks good,” she said. “I haven’t audited it yet to tell you it’s OK, but I’m still concerned about all this self-reporting and no follow-up to this self-reporting.”

To verify that self-reporting by other state agencies to the motor fleet, Wood says the division needs to send people out to do periodic in-person inspections to make sure state agencies are actually compiling with motor vehicle policies.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on the committee said they’ll come up with some legislation that’ll create penalties for non-compliance.

They’re looking at possible fines, budget cuts, or dismissal for individuals for not following state motor vehicle guidelines.

Those regulations have yet to be created and must go through the legislative process before they are enacted.

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