McCrory wants more flexibility to hire, fire

Posted May 7, 2013

— Gov. Pat McCrory says he needs more flexibility in hiring and firing state workers. 

"One item that we're looking at is the state personnel act and legislation that would give us more flexibilities, including new (ways) to help promote and give incentives to employees who are doing good jobs and at the same time deal with employees who aren't doing good jobs," McCrory said at the end of Tuesday's Council of State meeting.

McCrory was trying to enlist his fellow statewide elected officials in a push for more flexibility in the state's hiring and firing practices.

The state personnel act is a 60-year-old law that governs how and when most state workers can be hired and fired. The governor has some flexibility when it comes to "exempt" positions, but others are subject to rigid rules when it comes to raising their salaries or being fired.

In 2012, lawmakers increased the number of "exempt" positions, giving the governor roughly 1,000 appointees throughout state government who may be hired and fired at will. 

McCrory said changes he is seeking would allow cabinet secretaries and independently elected executives, such as the state treasurer, to better manage the rest of their employees who are not exempt from the SPA.

There is already a Senate bill filed to "modernize" the state personnel act, but lobbyists with the State Employees Association of North Carolina say they anticipate a bill will first move in the House.

Ardis Watkins, director of legislative affairs for SEANC, called moves to change the state personnel act "risky" and said lawmakers should avoid harming the act's core functions.

"The main (function) is to protect the public from having state employees who are put there not because of what they know but who they know," Watkins said.

McCrory said that he needs more flexibility to keep top talent while ridding the state of poor performers, such as a worker who hasn't been to the office in three months. McCrory said the average appeal of a firing decision is taking more than 400 days.

"I don't have any evidence that is the norm," Watkins said.

The House State Personnel Committee is expected to take up a personnel act bill Wednesday. 

When reporters tried to speak with McCrory after the Council of State meeting to clarify what changes he would like to see, the governor and his press aide said he did not have time for questions.


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  • prodigalrn May 8, 2013

    I wonder if Bev had asked for this, would the Righties have screamed about her abusing her power, or something of that nature? You know, smaller government and what not. Just curious.

  • ncwriter2008 May 8, 2013

    There are however some hard working state employees who are burdened with the extra job duties of their colleagues. Those people are the ones who get overlooked for promotions and raises because they're working so hard.The others have time to "schmooze" for favor. I hope any changes in the law will benefit the hard working good employees and help to normalize their workloads.

  • ncwriter2008 May 8, 2013

    @HadEnough Same here. They don't want to take minutes at meetings because there's nothing notable to record--because they accomplish and do nothing. Meetings are just for the managers to grandstand and show the employees that they're still in charge; because they're not around most of the time probably.Plus, it makes the managers feel "professional" like make-believe.

  • tayled May 8, 2013

    State govt positions are all about WHO you know even the parking attendant jobs

    Amen to that. Imagine my shock after getting my MA in History, with lots of experience in research and writing, to see a "House Historian" hired by Jim Black who produced less than a page of work in 4 years. Yet, I could not even get the lowest rung position within the state in DCR.

  • HadEnough May 8, 2013

    I've been a state employee for 23 years and I have NEVER been in a meeting where minutes were taken and disseminated. I even asked about minutes in one meeting and the "head" of the meeting said "Oh No we don't want to do that now". It is mind blowing how no one person can make a decision. Everything is by committee so no one can be blamed.

  • ncwriter2008 May 8, 2013

    @HadEnough You are SO right about that. If they want to cut the employees doing the least work, they need to start at the top of each department/division/section.

  • ncwriter2008 May 8, 2013

    State govt positions are all about WHO you know even the parking attendant jobs. As for Mary Easley, well, she was OVERWORKED by state govt standards.At least she came to work on a weekly basis. That's better than her colleagues at NCSU.There are academic heads of depts who don't come in all summer and let their secretaries run the dept while they collect $70k-$150k per year.

  • kermit60 May 8, 2013

    Would this mean that thousands of state workers could be subjected to being fired because their supervisor is of a different political party. They wouldn't say that but I'm sure they could find a reason if needed.

  • HadEnough May 8, 2013

    This needs to happen. I am a state employee and I believe the same work we do now can be done with 2/3 the number of employees. Truely, the ones that need to be terminated first are the managers. The only way to get promoted with the state is to kiss you know what.

  • ncwriter2008 May 8, 2013

    >>To be honest, working in a state agency, it is still who you know and not what you know, regardless of the SPA or EPA positions. It didn't end with Mary Easley.