RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's government watchdog agency says it's impossible to evaluate whether state government's motor vehicle fleet is used efficiently because there's no standard way to keep track of its use.
The Program Evaluation Division released its findings Wednesday to a legislative oversight committee. The report says North Carolina lacks a centralized clearing house to count how many passenger vehicles the state owns and their costs. Investigators say the roughly 29,000 vehicles reported by individual agencies underestimates the size of the fleet.
Pamela Taylor of the Program Evaluation Division said there are 2,345 more active state-owned license plates than there are state-owned cars to put them on.
"We'd like to know where those 2,300 cars are. We'd like to know who's driving them, and we'd like to know how much fuel they're using and how much the maintenance costs," said Sen. Debbie Clary, R-Cleveland.
Most state agencies don't even track their vehicle costs, Taylor said.
The report recommends agencies clean up their vehicle lists and lawmakers direct the creation of an electronic motor fleet management system. The $50,000 database is expected to be operational sometime next year.
"I think (a central database) would pay for itself because (you're) knowing where your state fleet is and what the usage of the state fleet is," Clary said.
Anne Bander, chief operating officer of the state Department of Administration, which manages the motor fleet, said she had just seen the report and couldn't provide an immediate response.
The report comes two years after a WRAL News investigation found that state agencies were paying millions of dollars for vehicles to sit in parking lots.
State officials recently ordered changes to motor fleet rules so that, effective Jan. 1, agencies are billed only for the miles they drive, along with a $35 monthly charge per vehicle to cover insurance.
Previously, the Motor Fleet Management Division charged for a monthly minimum of 1,050 miles per car and more for each mile over that to cover maintenance, insurance and gas. If cars traveled fewer than 1,050 miles a month, agencies still have had to pay the flat rate.