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McCrory: State government IT system 'broken'

Posted January 7, 2013

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— 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.

Gov. Pat McCrory McCrory, cabinet quickly find problems to fix

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Perdue herself rescinded the order in December to allow her to fill an opening on the state Supreme Court on short notice before leaving office.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.

Pat McCrory McCrory holds first news conference as governor

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.

124 Comments

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  • westernwake1 Jan 8, 6:56 p.m.

    Here is the fix for the state's IT problems:

    1) Hire competent non-political IT executives.

    2) Immediately terminate all large state IT contracts where the vendor has not delivered on their commitments.

    3) Get out of the way of IT technology team members and let them do their jobs without interference.

    4) Shove aside incompetent IT people.

    5) Create 'A Teans' of high performers to tackle critical individual projects - start to finish.

    6) Reduce outsourcing. Eliminate all overseas outsourcing.

    7) Focus on delivering projects - not on ITIL, governance, and enterprise architecture theory.

    8) Hire small agile consulting firms of developers for any outsourced state projects. Do not hire large consulting firms with long records of delivery failure like IBM.

  • oldaltar Jan 8, 5:25 p.m.

    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.

    This the Fox guarding the Hen house. Somebody is going to get paid in Full.

  • bgibson3 Jan 8, 5:18 p.m.

    After you "cut the fat" for several years, at some point you start cutting muscle and bone. Sometimes you can "do more with less", but eventually you "do less with less". Sometimes outsourcing is good... if you can get the same job done, for less money. But, if you get horrible services for less money, what have you saved, really? Your clients/users are frustrated, and some of the sharp ones even have a faint realization that, "it used to be better, than now, wasn't it".

  • teddyspaghetti Jan 8, 4:44 p.m.

    I'm a little lat eto the party, but lots of good comments here about the lack of 'good' IT in state government.

    One of the BEST comments was about keeping upper management OUT of IT decisions. They have no clue what's going on in the trenches nor anything about the current technology. Let your coders do what they do best, code....let the managers fuss and fight, and keep the politics out of the code!

    Also, don't you think we have enough programmers that are out of work right now?? Why does every manager think everyone from INDIA is a freekin' genius?? Most of the times I've seen code outsourced, it has had to be rewritten....itis poor code - you get what you pay for and $10/day code is terrible!

    Get the cronies out and hire someone that can drive a project sans politics and I'll show you a system that will hum witht he best!!

  • westernwake1 Jan 8, 4:41 p.m.

    "However Bev never made this statement. She does not have enough insight to understand that the 'state government IT system is broken'. In fact she amplified the problem by appointing incompetent IT executives to state positions during her tenure.....westernwake1

    'And just how would you know this? ...' - trueblue0100

    OK. Please point me to a single press release or news story where Bev Perdue states the state IT system is broken. The closest you come is when she was trying to defend the IT performance of the unemployment and HHS offices.... saying a few IT updates were needed.

    BTW... Read this thread and others. I offered viable solutions and outlined the state IT problems in detail.... leading other posters to state I 'nailed it'.

  • RD28327 Jan 8, 4:06 p.m.

    Governor McCrory, how about hooking me up with a job so I can help fix IT. You're gonna need a lot of help!

  • Terkel Jan 8, 2:14 p.m.

    "However Bev never made this statement. She does not have enough insight to understand that the state IT system is broken. In fact she amplified the problem by appointing incompetent IT executives to state positions during her tenure.....westernwake1

    And just how would you know this?" trueblue

    It's called reading the news.

  • trueblue0100 Jan 8, 1:19 p.m.

    However Bev never made this statement. She does not have enough insight to understand that the state IT system is broken. In fact she amplified the problem by appointing incompetent IT executives to state positions during her tenure.....westernwake1

    And just how would you know this? It's funny how people like you always KNOW the facts AFTER they come out. Most of you Bev haters would have complained about anything she said or did. Isn't that the republican/conservative way? You always seem to complain about the problems, but offer no viable solutions. You may not realize it, but this trait make you totally useless and worthless.

  • NYtoNC81 Jan 8, 12:45 p.m.

    Nothing wrong with spending on infrastructure if it makes you better equipped to be more efficient in the long-run.

    For some reason so many people have had that "any government spending is bad spending" mantra hammered in to them, which is ridiculous.

  • Pseudonym Jan 8, 12:06 p.m.

    westernwake1 nailed it. Too many theoriticians who know the acronym ITIL, went to a junket conference about it, and think they know about it. Anyone who has studied (or rather, attempted to study) ITIL knows it's a hot mess. The intentions are good, but putting it on paper is a mess, and actually attempting to implement it is even worse.

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