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Audit shows accurate list of state property doesn't exist

Posted November 16, 2011

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— North Carolina cannot adequately insure buildings like the North Carolina Museum of History or the Capitol because there is no accurate inventory of all state-owned properties, according to an audit released Wednesday.

State Auditor Beth Wood recently had a team of investigators try to evaluate whether the state is providing the most cost-effective insurance coverage for its properties. She said that turned out to be impossible because there wasn't a comprehensive list off which to work.

"As an auditor, as an accountant, as a CPA, it's unbelievable to me," Wood said.

The state Department of Administration, which oversees the State Property Office, has 406 buildings on its list not found on a list from the Department of Insurance's Risk Management Division. Wood said those buildings are likely under-insured or not insured at all.

The Risk Management Division has 113 buildings not found on the State Property Office list. Wood said that means the state could be paying premiums on properties no longer on its books.

"(The property) has been transferred to a local government or the building's actually been demolished," she said.

Wood said she suspects the different building inventories have been used for decades, and she blamed the Department of Administration for the problem.

Department of Administration building Department of Administration blamed for inaccurate state property lists

"They are who is really responsible for the inventory of our state property," she said.

Department spokeswoman Jill Lucas said the State Property Office inventory is based on information received from state agencies. Officials have to trust that agencies are giving them an accurate list, she said.

Likewise, the Department of Insurance compiled its list of state properties from information gathered from state agencies, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said.

It's suspected that North Carolina taxpayers own more than 15,000 properties statewide.

The audit called for lawmakers to require the use of a single property inventory and for the Risk Management Division to require agencies to justify any discrepancies. The division also should seek competitive bids on insuring state property and routinely review deductibles and replacement values of buildings, according to the audit.

"(The problem) is mind-boggling, and it's something that the leaders of North Carolina need to get their arms around and get fixed," Wood said.

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  • skeeter II Nov 18, 2011

    In the past accounting principles did not require governments to have accurate records of owned assets. The same is true for non-profits -- you would be surprised at the number of churches that do not have their property included in their accounting records (except the amount spent in the year of purchase or donation as an expenditure) as assets.

    Look at the story in the N&O this morning about the mineral rights (natural gas) possibly not belonging to the person having title to the land. another fine mess!

  • dontstopnow Nov 17, 2011

    Certainly is interesing when property tax time rolls around, they don't loose any of us that own property!

  • federalsales Nov 17, 2011

    The state and the goverment have been doing this for years,,nothing new,, just now is going public, But what can we do,,nothing because the ones that would inforce are ones doing it. so get over it and move on...............

  • n2bigcats Nov 17, 2011

    And this is a surprise ???

  • apnc2 Nov 17, 2011

    There is a simple solution. Have a comprehensive title search done in every county. At this point the register of deeds records ARE your one and only accurate list.

  • kermit60 Nov 17, 2011

    Every problem and discrepency mentioned in the article is someones job or responsibility. Why aren't these people being held accountable, reprimanded, replaced or both. It is truly criminal that things are this messed up and not a single person has been replaced. The corruption at the state level has covered for these people for years. it's time the taxpayers demand the cover be removed.

  • jdupree Nov 17, 2011

    Beverly Perdue and Democrats have created a disaster with their many years of miss-management of the State of NC. Wonder how much "stuff" we bought and never received the "stuff". It makes it convienient to not have an inventory. Even Dollar General does a yearly inventory!

  • ORMA Nov 17, 2011

    Anyone working for the state at any level could have told them this. The same goes for the equipment in the buildings. Those inventories are constantly wrong. I work for the state and have my equipment inventoried every year (every piece of it) while other departments in my institution only get inventoried every 2 or 3 years and are not made to account for each of the items they are supposed to have.

  • ladyblue Nov 17, 2011

    What does it take to get people of management fired that work for the state? Seems the errors show up in these state agencies, but no one ever looses their job over it.

  • davidgnews Nov 17, 2011

    Dept. of Admin is a corrupt mess, and has had problems like this festering for years.

    They should do a full audit of P&C alone and look at how much money is wasted over state contracts. I'm sure a lot of 'gifts' will be showing up there in the next month.

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