WRAL Investigates

Perdue: State motor fleet rules need to be revamped

Posted November 10, 2009

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— Gov. Beverly Perdue said Tuesday that rules governing how state agencies lease vehicles need to be reworked to avoid wasteful spending.

The call for an overhaul follows a WRAL News investigation that found some agencies paid millions for miles they did not drive and others had questionable record-keeping practices.

State-owned vehicle State motor fleet rules targeted for change

"We need every dollar we can find, and if you're paying for cars to sit in a lot, the whole system needs to be revamped," Perdue said.

Agencies lease vehicles from the state Motor Fleet Management Division, which is funded solely by fees collected on the vehicles and doesn't get any money from the state budget. By law, the division charges for a monthly minimum of 1,050 miles on each vehicle to cover maintenance, insurance and gas for more than 8,500 state-owned vehicles.

If vehicles are driven more than 1,050 miles in a month, the agency must pay extra. If cars travel less than 1,050 miles, agencies must still pay the minimum rate.

The unused miles added up in the past year, when Perdue and former Gov. Mike Easley ordered agencies to cut travel spending because of a record budget shortfall.

"We did all the right things, but we didn't know we were getting charged while the cars sat on the lot unused," Perdue said.

From July 2008 to last June, records show the state Department of Correction spent $1.7 million on parked cars. More than half of the state Department of Health and Human Services vehicles drove under the minimum mileage, costing the agency more than $1 million, records show.

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill spent $600,000 on unused mileage the fiscal year that ended in June, while North Carolina State University spent $293,000, according to state records.

The expense for the unused cars came as agencies cut programs and state workers took a pay cut last spring to balance the budget.

"It's foolish, (and it) ought to be fixed," said Norris Tolson, co-chairman of Perdue's Budget Reform and Accountability Commission , which is searching for ways to save money in state government.

"It's one of those things that's been sitting on the books for a long time," Tolson said. "As (state agencies) change, nobody has really looked at it and said, 'Am I really doing this as good as I could be?' And the answer is probably no."

The budget reform panel already targeted fuel efficiency in the fleet, and Tolson said mileage charges will now be scrutinized as well.

Perdue said agencies could end up returning several vehicles to Motor Fleet Management and having their employees sharing vehicles. She also said the law regarding usage of state-owned vehicles might need to be updated.

The motor fleet statute that covers mileage was adopted in 1981 and has never been changed. By law, Motor Fleet Management is limited in its oversight. Once an agency rents a vehicle, the division can't take it away as long as the bills are being paid.

"If the judgment call is we can't afford to keep all these cars, we've got to find another way to do it," Tolson said.

31 Comments

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  • killerkestrel Nov 12, 12:24 p.m.

    My understanding was that the Highway Patrol goes through MFM for their vehicles. When vehicles are surplused, the only ones NOT sold by MFM are NCDOT equipment and yellow trucks. NCDOT does use many MFM vehicles, but they are usually for office staff and managers, not field workers.

    But what changes would be made? I think they might tighten up on low usage vehicles, but that would encourage staff to just drive more so they don't lose their vehicles. This would lead to MORE, not less waste because people would actually be burning gas and spending time doing nothing but making mileage.

  • lkanzig Nov 12, 9:53 a.m.

    want to control wastefull spending? start at the top! thats right bev THATS YOU!
    do you really need to have a 2nd office in charlotte? do you really need to fly to other cities in THIS STATE? do you really need to take a bogus trip to china to promote trade? the education ceo that you had hired when there was already a state superintendant elected by the public?

    how about your lies bev?
    that you were for education but yet you cut teachers pay and diverted money from the EDUCATION lottery? that you cut all the excess pork from the budget but yet it seems every month there is another story of wastefullness? the 1 cent sales tax will end after a year because you say you are the govenor and you say it will end?

    truly a sad and pathetic govenor you are turning out to be bev!

  • lkanzig Nov 12, 9:30 a.m.

    "We did all the right things, but we didn't know we were getting charged while the cars sat on the lot unused," Perdue said.

    REALLY BEV?? YOU DID ALL THE RIGHT THINGS?? HOW ON EARTH DID YOU EVEN GET ELECTED?
    LIES AND MORE LIES BEV, YOUR WHOLE TENURE HAS BEEN FULL OF LIES!

  • smalldogsrule Nov 11, 7:14 p.m.

    I wonder what state service was being performed by the employee in the state vehicle that stayed parked in front of Marshall's on Capital Blvd. for OVER three hours last June.

    Your answer depends on which agency the car is from. The State department of agriculture division of weights and measures certifies cash registers for accuracy, as well as scales at supermarkets and gas pumps. There could have been a legitimate reason they were there.

    I have said for years that Motor Fleet Management should be eliminated. Why does the DOC not have it's own fleet management like the Highway Patrol? Motor fleet management should only be a maintenance organization.

  • firesrain Nov 11, 5:01 p.m.

    Heavye said, "I have often wondered why my dept., has to pay for 1050 miles for a vehicle that has already been paid for?"

    Oh, you're wondering why by the time your car is surplused out with 100,000 miles, at approximately 8yrs old (if drivin the 1050 allotment) that we've paid more than $47,000 to motorfleet for what was, maybe, a $12-15,000 car? Good question....

  • What if_I could Nov 11, 4:01 p.m.

    Were is the "AUDIT(OR)" for NC? Maybe she is denying audits because there is not justification for the auditor as she did with Easley. Wonder if now our government will have a dealership sign over the motor fleet by the end of the week. "get you a good used car, little mileage, we are selling cheap because the tax payers already paid for the car".

  • North Carolina Home Nov 11, 3:45 p.m.

    "Agencies will have to have vehicles to perform state services.
    wdkanesfan"

    I wonder what state service was being performed by the employee in the state vehicle that stayed parked in front of Marshall's on Capital Blvd. for OVER three hours last June.

  • NCPACKER Nov 11, 2:44 p.m.

    Ya think Bev? Jeez lady, get with the program already! What are YOU going to do about you pathetic governor?

  • makingmagick Nov 11, 12:14 p.m.

    The BIG question that no one is asking is WHERE DID ALL THIS $$ GO???
    If they were collecting at that rate for car that were unused, the money had to be going someware? How come no one is looking for it?

  • superman Nov 11, 11:21 a.m.

    I am surprised that not a single person in accounting for any of the affected agencies brought that to someones attention!

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