Now that former Gov. Pat. McCrory has landed a regular spot on a talk radio program in Charlotte, a caller may want to ask how his plan to “fix DMV” worked out.
Fixing the Division of Motor Vehicles seemed a modest goal for a new governor in 2013, but McCrory’s stressed it as one of his first priorities. The DMV appeared to be a good test of his pledge to run government “like a business” and root out ineffective state employees he described as “seat-warmers.”
Now a new report from the Office of State Auditor suggests McCrory’s fixing failed in at least two areas.
An audit found that high-ranking DMV employees wasted nearly $100,000 through misuse of state vehicles during McCrory’s tenure. Much of the expense came from an inspector who was commuting almost daily from coastal Beaufort County to Raleigh. Between 2014 and 2016, the inspector earned $33,215 just for the hours he spent driving between his home and Raleigh.
It’s unclear whether the state will get back any of the wasted money. In the meantime, state officials said they’ve started putting GPS trackers on cars that employees take home.
Another McCrory fix, which he announced at the State Fair in 2015, was the state’s purchase of nine specially outfitted Chevrolet Suburbans that would travel to remote parts of the state where there isn’t a DMV office within 30 miles. The vehicles carried all the equipment someone would need to issue or renew a driver’s license.
To buy and equip the fleet cost $2.5 million. The mobile units were supposed to serve more than 20,000 people a year, but through September of this year, they have served just 5,303 customers. At some stops, the mobile offices have served fewer than 10 people a day. DMV officials are now considering ways to make better use of the mobile units.
The audit supports the conclusion that attempts to run government “like a business” often mean dismissing government controls and oversight as bureaucratic inefficiencies. There’s a reason for such standards. It’s good that the state auditor and the administration of Gov. Roy Cooper are putting them back in place.