Raleigh, N.C. -- Everyday you and I drive state highways. And so do people who work for the Department of Insurance. But the state auditor says at least two state employees checked so far fudged their mileage reimbursement reports. And she tells 2 Wants To Know a lack of management is to blame for about $3,800 in over-payments
The auditor says one worker took a trip from Jacksonville to Greenville about every other week for a year. The employee claimed it was an average of 180 miles round trip, but a quick MapQuest check reveals the trip is really 142 miles. The extra 38 miles at 55 cents a mile, rings up to about $20. The state worker pocketed that $20 over and over. Add in a few additional inflated trips, and the state auditor says the employee drove home with $2,123 more than they should.
Across all of the Department of Insurance's top travelers, the auditor questioned mileage in nine percent of the trips she reviewed, about $3,800 worth. That upsets folks paying for their own gas.
"You in the public sphere, you are an employee. And so to lie, you should have some kind of integrity about the situation," taxpayer Brandi Johnson said.
North Carolina auditor Beth Wood blames the Department of Insurance supervisors.
"The mileage issue, this is probably one of the first that I've heard of where people are fudging if you will," she said
As a safeguard, Wood thinks they should require paper proof for mileage, like a MapQuest print out.
"All you need is this extra piece of documentation that takes seconds to print out," she said.
But even with the paperwork that is already required, the auditor found problems. 29 percent of the time it didn't include the written authorization required prior to the trip. And 12 percent didn't list the reason for the trip.
The Department of Insurance wouldn't talk to 2 Wants To Know, referring us to their response to the audit where they wrote they will make sure to have: "staff perform reviews of travel reimbursements."
The auditor plans to check back soon.