The data used by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to process permits is incomplete and inaccurate and the timeframe to issue permits is skewed, according to a new state audit.
The extensive report issued Tuesday also finds fault with the express permitting system, suggesting it delays standard permits, costs more than it derives in fees and gets inordinate attention from experienced staffers. It also questioned whether the agency met its performance standards, though couldn't make sweeping conclusions on this point because of incomplete data.
DENR, however, rejected the audit's findings. In a blunt, three-page letter Secretary Dee Freeman, said he "regrets the countless hours of limited DENR staff resources ... to provide information for this report did not lead to well-grounded conclusions."
It prompted State Auditor Beth Wood's office to issue a point-by-point response suggesting DENR misinterpreted its findings. "We understand reviews ... often generate a lot of emotions, we want to make sure the reader stays focused on the issues," it stated.