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Audits: State workers didn't go extra mile - only got paid for it

Posted August 28, 2013

— Two state audits released Wednesday urged the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Insurance to seek repayment from employees who obtained improper mileage reimbursements.

An unidentified DPI analyst filed travel reimbursements totaling $3,403 from October 2011 to June 2012, stating that she visited Midway High School and other nearby schools to provide Title I assistance. Officials from the various schools told auditors, however, that they never heard of the woman and never received any assistance, and auditors noted that the woman's supervisor and job description both stated she had no reason to travel outside her Raleigh office.

The analyst admitted to auditors that she never visited the schools but said that a manager told her to list schools near her home in Dunn to justify reimbursement for commuting costs to Raleigh after DPI shifted her to a home-based office. Auditors said they was no documentation for the change, and even if the woman was entitled to reimbursements, they said she intentionally misrepresented her travel from her Raleigh office and supervisors wrongly approved it.

A second audit noted that two DOI employees racked up an extra $3,817 in reimbursements during the 2011-12 fiscal year by overstating their travels by a combined 6,132 miles.

Auditors used Google maps to determine that one employee overstated the distance between his home office and trips to Greenville and Wilmington by up to 36 percent. The mileage estimates on his expense reports where inflated for almost three-quarters of his travels during the year, according to the audit.

The employee defended the extra mileage by noting that he often took circuitous routes to avoid traffic and to make extra stops that were not documented, but auditors noted that state regulations said such excuses aren't justified.

The second DOI employee told auditors that he got lost on a trip from Charlotte to Indianapolis, adding about 350 miles to his trip. Auditors determined he overstated the mileage claimed on his expense reports on about 20 percent of his trips during the year.

Auditors said DOI could have saved $13,400 if state-owned cars were issued to the people who traveled the most for the agency, instead of reimbursing them for using their own vehicles.

DOI said it would review expense reports for the two employees for fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2013, which ended in June, to determine if there were other overstatements. Also, the agency said supervisors would try to verify distances on expense reports filed by all DOI employees before approving them.

In addition to seeking any necessary repayments, DPI and DOI said they plan to take appropriate disciplinary action against the employees.

20 Comments

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  • silverock28 Sep 2, 2:30 p.m.

    It's a shame that these employees would steal from taxpayers. They should be fired. If the audit just identified this crime, makes you wonder how long they had been doing this before being caught and why this would not have stood out to supervisors based on their assignments. Doesn't the DOI prosecute others for fraud?

  • teleman60 Aug 30, 3:01 p.m.

    Total saved ? Total cost to taxpayers??

    As another said. I wonder, though, was this a directive from the office of Magic Pat who thought the audit would reveal massive Perdue fraud and they found LESS THAN $7000. They probably paid the audit team more than that for ONE DAY! The audit went back over 3 years and that's all they could find!

    More laughable NC State Govt...

  • Rebelyell55 Aug 30, 11:33 a.m.

    Another fine job by Ms B and her group. As one poster already stated, the supervisor and manager need a serious looking at too. It appear either one if lying or they supported the fraud.

  • albegadeep Aug 30, 11:06 a.m.

    Total savings for the state - a few thousand dollars. Total spent on the investigation...?

  • dwntwnboy2 Aug 30, 10:13 a.m.

    If they are lying and getting money, punish them and make them pay it back. Fraud is fraud no matter what party.

  • goldenosprey Aug 30, 9:25 a.m.

    The system works. Good. I thought WRAL was in the tank for the libbies, but the headline makes it sound like this fraud is widespread. Some attorneys who work for the State, who must retain an NC law license do not have their state or local bar dues paid, and often do not have their required continuing education classes paid for either. This is hundreds or thousands out of pocket for them. But that's not "red meat" for the reader.

  • krimson Aug 30, 12:37 a.m.

    Busted!!!

  • 37 Aug 29, 7:00 p.m.

    Taking "appropriate disciplinary action" should begin with termination. They committed a crime and stole from the state, meaning all of us.

  • Union Cavalry Aug 29, 1:23 p.m.

    This is directly related to a lack of oversight by supervisors and managers. These travel expenses were all signed-off by
    supervisors/managers and they should also be held responsible!

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Aug 29, 12:25 p.m.

    Why are people being paid mileage for commuting to work? If you are allowed to work from home, you're already saving gas from not having to commute every day. So if you do go to a school, it's like you're going to the office. Our remote people do this all of the time and they don't expect to be reimbursed - they are just happy not to have to come to the office and put up with all the drama and stress.

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