McCrory taps more at-will workers

Posted October 1, 2013
Updated October 2, 2013

Gov. Pat McCrory

— Gov. Pat McCrory has selected hundreds of additional state employees who will soon lose their civil service protections, bringing his roster of at-will workers to about 1,300.

New legislation McCrory signed in August increased his cap on so-called "exempt positions" to 1,500, tripling a limit that has held steady for almost a quarter-century. Exempt employees aren't subject to certain parts of the State Personnel Act, most notably the ability to contest their removal from the job.

McCrory made his first round of exempt designations in July.

Critics say exempt designations make state employees more vulnerable to shifting political influence, undermining what would ideally be an experienced, long-serving civil service corps. Employees in exempt policy-making positions, one of two different types of exempt designations, are even expected by law to be reasonably loyal to the governor.

But McCrory and proponents of the legislative changes, which passed the General Assembly in two separate pieces, say the changes are needed to increase flexibility in state government.

A McCrory spokesperson could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, but the governor's press office said in a news release that these positions "serve at the will of the governor or his designee because their duties directly affect the execution of the governor’s policies."

However, a WRAL News analysis of the positions McCrory has designated as exempt in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Health and Human Services shows these designations run deep within department hierarchies – in some cases six levels removed from the cabinet secretary.

Change in exempt positions

Fall 2012
July 1
Oct. 1
Change% change
Public Safety102106229127124.5%
Cultural Resources13111300%
Info Tech0028N/AN/A
Human Resources0012N/AN/A
Source: Office of State Personnel, governor's office

This new batch of designations is largely consolidated in the two largest cabinet departments, DHHS and the Department of Public Safety, despite adding another three agencies to the list eligible for exemptions.

At DHHS, an agency marred by controversial hires and contracts and the high-profile departure of several members of its leadership team, McCrory has designated another 140 exempt positions. The 530 at-will workers now make up about 3 percent of that total workforce.

Compared with the number of positions former Gov. Beverly Perdue designated in the fall of 2012, McCrory more than doubled the number of exemptions in DPS during this round. That's despite keeping the number almost constant in July.

The governor's office has not yet released the full list of exempt positions.


This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • Rebelyell55 Oct 7, 10:26 a.m.

    This is one I agree with, and the HR agency certainly needs a lot more.

  • Lady Justice Oct 7, 10:25 a.m.

    "Heaven forbid that any state employees be expected to work under the same conditions as non-state employees. "

    Are non-state employees *really* subjected to political influence like state employees? Are you not comparing apples to oranges?

    I wonder if all this support of at-will government employees will remain when the other side is back in power. And it will happen at some point.

  • Sally1023 Oct 7, 10:21 a.m.

    Good news, he's in an at will job too. The commercials aren't working, Patty. We know who you are by what you have done and what you haven't done. What's that about lip stick on a pig?

  • gibbman67 Oct 5, 9:30 p.m.

    keep up the good work Gov ...

  • sixnitepkg Oct 4, 4:37 p.m.

    C'mon WRAL - quit censoring the truth!

    McCrory has a couple of more years to show either his competence or incompetence. I say give him a chance to improve the functioning of state government before we tar and feather him.


    this is not about competence vs. incompetence - it's called "graft and corruption" - look at who's making money from hand picked at will employees in the DENR(aka. if I don't like the results of your water quality report then you're fired). now do the same for DHHS - who's going to get rich of of privatizing medicaid? now look at top contributors to McCrory and the GOP - bet it's the same people.

  • 42 Oct 4, 9:06 a.m.

    Just what NC needs. More McCrory yesman.

  • 1jalapeno Oct 3, 7:55 a.m.

    McCrory has a couple of more years to show either his competence or incompetence. I say give him a chance to improve the functioning of state government before we tar and feather him.

  • lshudgins44 Oct 2, 10:49 p.m.

    Heaven forbid that any state employees be expected to work under the same conditions as non-state employees. Sorry guys...less employees with "protection" working in state government, the better.

  • anthonysmith349 Oct 2, 7:55 p.m.

    I first thought this decision was a little much, but, after thinking about it, I don't. The state agencies are filled at the top with far left and leaning left managers and administrators. In order for the governor and Dr. Wos to succeed in making changes within DHHS there needs to be a change in the guards. The only thing is that when the other party takes over again, there will be another problem for those in those positions. I say clean house if the people in those positions don't follow the program and put QUALIFIED people in those positions to move the changes along.