Raleigh, N.C. — The state Commissioner of Agriculture is defending department practices after an audit found an employee had improperly used a state vehicle.
State Auditor Beth Wood outlined her findings in a letter to Commissioner Steve Troxler dated Aug. 19. Wood wrote that her office investigated Patrick Jones, deputy director of the Pesticide Section of the Department of Agriculture, after getting a tip that he was using a state vehicle for his commute.
The audit found Jones had used a state pickup truck to drive from his home in Reidsville to the agriculture office in Raleigh and charged the trips as comp time, for an estimated benefit of $36,546.71.
Troxler explained that Jones and his supervisor "intended that he would be working out of this home, traveling across the state" necessitating the use of a vehicle. Instead, Troxler wrote, "Jones ended up making frequent trips to Raleigh to work at the division offices on Blue Ridge Road."
He conceded that Jones's assignment had not worked out as planned and said his truck would be reassigned.
Troxler defended any use of the truck as a misunderstanding that did not warrant punishment. "We do not believe Mr. Jones engaged in any intentional misconduct, and therefore we do not intend to take any disciplinary action against him," Troxler wrote.
The department is working on a plan for more frequent reviews of duty stations and vehicle assignments, Troxler concluded.