An admirable audit

Published 12:50 am Saturday, July 9, 2011

State Auditor Beth Wood and her staff have done yeoman’s service in exposing problems with the N.C. Ferry Division.

Let’s hope those problems already have been fixed, or will be fixed quickly. Our state’s ferry system is too vital to coastal residents and tourists to be the source of lingering doubts about the propriety of its staff.

In a performance audit released Thursday, Wood and her crew address issues raised by Harold “Buddy” Finch, who served as director of the Ferry Division for two months until he was fired in 2010.

The audit contends some of Finch’s claims about mismanagement were justified —  that nepotism is alive and well in the Ferry Division.

The audit didn’t confirm Finch’s claims that division workers were getting overtime pay they hadn’t earned or that time sheets were being approved by employees’ relatives.

The audit didn’t uncover “questionable spending by Ferry Division managers.”

The report contains recommendations for fixing problems identified by the auditors.

It’s worth noting the audit isn’t an indictment of the whole Ferry Division.

The N.C. Department of Transportation already has tightened controls over the division, according to The Associated Press. (In fact, the audit was performed at DOT’s request.)

But Wood and her staff deserve credit for defining the issues, and their potential solutions, in a balanced, responsible way.

That’s what auditors should do.