Raleigh, N.C. — Two days after he took office, Gov. Pat McCrory hit the ground running Monday, issuing his first executive order and declaring that the computer systems in various state government agencies need a serious overhaul.
McCrory cited audits of the effort to consolidate state information technology systems in his determination that the systems "are broken in almost every department." IT problems are most alarming in the Department of Health and Human Services, he said, where they could affect the distribution of food stamps and Medicaid.
"If this new system is not implemented in the way it was initially designed, then we're going to have some major issues in July regarding our citizens getting the needed services from state government," he said at a news conference.
Agency heads are looking to hire IT contractors to assist with the consolidation and to work out bugs in the system, said McCrory, who also named Chris Estes as the state's chief information officer, putting him in charge of IT operations.
Estes most recently served as a principal at strategy and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. He previously worked as business development manager at consulting and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and at IBM.
"It is clear we have to modernize and digitize state government," McCrory said in announcing Estes' appointment.
Some computer systems aren't working properly, and no back-up systems are in place, he said.
McCrory also named former Rep. Fred Steen, R-Rowan, as his legislative liaison and Tony Almeida, a former colleague of McCrory's at Duke Energy Corp., as his top economic adviser.
In his first official action as governor, he issued an executive order rescinding an order last year from Gov. Beverly Perdue that created a judicial nominating commission. He said he planned to use his constitutional authority to name qualified candidates to open judgeships.
Perdue herself rescinded the order in December to allow her to fill an opening on the state Supreme Court on short notice before leaving office.
McCrory said he met Monday morning with his cabinet, and they discussed the "thin" budget surplus the state has through the end of the fiscal year in June. He advised the agencies to watch their spending but said they are finding it difficult to track revenues and expenses because many departments don't issue monthly budget reports.
A "cash-flow crunch" is expected to continue through May as the state tries to process income tax refunds while other collections are in a lull, he said.
"Money is not going to drop out of the trees. There is no new money at this point in time. We've got business that are barely hanging on," he said.
The cabinet also talked about problems with state government buildings. McCrory said many offices are "in total disrepair" after years without adequate maintenance, and some departments are so scattered among different buildings that they cannot work efficiently.
Some buildings also have security concerns that need to be addressed, but he declined to be more specific.
"The longer it takes to maintain and fix these buildings, the more expensive it's going to get for the taxpayers," he said. "Before we build new buildings like we have for the last five years in state government, we better take care of the ones we have. ... We build new things without having sufficient operations money to run them."
McCrory said the IT and infrastructure issues weren't the result of the Perdue administration. Rather, they were problems decades in the making.
"This is a long-term structural breakdown you can't put on any one individual or political party," he said.