NCDOT overspent on salary increases by $39M, audit says

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Department of Transportation overspent on salary adjustments by $39 million during the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to a state audit.

State Auditor Beth Wood released the audit report Tuesday morning which included a response to its findings by NCDOT Secretary Eric Boyette.

The audit looked into whether NCDOT made salary adjustments for the 2018-19 fiscal year in accordance with a new state law.

That law, Session Law 2018-5, enacted a pilot program that gave NCDOT the ability to give salary increases without having to follow compensation rules from the North Carolina Human Resources Commission.

The 2-year pilot program intended to have NCDOT employees who received salary adjustment relinquish claims of longevity pay and career status.

Longevity pay is a lump sum of money annually given to state employees with 10 years or more of service. That lump sum is usually between 1.5 percent and 4.5 percent of the employees annual salary.

Career status is a form of employment protection for state employees.

The audit says NCDOT did not make salary adjustments in accordance with Session Law 2018-5 – saying employees who received the salary adjustments did not give up longevity pay or career status.

“As a result, the Department gave its employees an unfair advantage by allowing them to retain all of the benefits and protections of state employment even though they received compensation that was not available to state employees under state compensation rules,” the audit states.

The audit also found that:

  • 5,422 employees received raises greater than 10 percent
  • 10 poor-performing employees who didn’t meet job expectations also received raises
  • 203 employees with active disciplinary actions received salary increases

NCDOT also showed that noncompliance with state laws has no consequences, the audit says.

“Those who ignored the intent of the law should be disciplined,” Wood told CBS 17’s Steve Sbraccia.

She said that discipline should be “up to and including dismissal.”

The audit says NCDOT should take corrective action to being the department in compliance with state law.

The audit’s recommendations also includes NCDOT meeting with legislators to “determine the intent of state laws before implementing programs.”

Boyette’s response disputes the findings of the audit, saying it was premised on a misunderstanding of the pilot program.

“The Department is confident that it executed this pilot program in conformance with law and in a manner that fulfilled the intent of the legislature,” Boyette wrote.

CBS 17 will update this story.

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