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Perdue: Merge state departments, freeze hiring

Posted December 9, 2010

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— Gov. Beverly Perdue said Thursday she wants to consolidate several state agencies, eliminate support functions and freeze hiring to streamline state government and save money.

"I believe North Carolina has to be leaner and more nimble and more responsive to the citizens of this state," Perdue told area business leaders during a meeting at Pinehurst Resort. "It's not rocket science. It's just simple, fundamental, good business sense."

The state faces a $3.7 billion budget shortfall, starting July 1, according to the most recent estimation by fiscal experts at the legislature. That's nearly 20 percent of the $19 billion budget under which the state is currently operating.

Most of the gap is caused by the loss of federal stimulus dollars and the expiration of temporary taxes, along with high-priority spending items that lawmakers usually approve, such as funding increased school enrollment, state pension funds and the employee health insurance plan.

The shortfall could change if the economy improves or worsens.

The new Republican majority in the General Assembly has ruled out new taxes to close the budget gap, so more attention has been paid to possible consolidation or reorganization of state government as a budget solution.

Perdue said she wants to merge state agencies and privatize some of the duties now handled by state workers.

Under her plan, the departments of Juvenile Justice, Correction and Crime Control and Public Safety would merge into one Department of Public Safety; the Department of Commerce would absorb the Employment Security Commission; and the Department of Administration would be renamed the Department of Management and Administration and become the chief operations unit for state government, absorbing information technology, the Office of State Personnel and the controller’s office.

Purchasing functions can be consolidated and coordinated bidding and bulk purchasing would be farmed out to a private company, Perdue said. Also, up to 100 computer service units statewide could be closed, and a private company could help the state consolidate IT services in a central location, she said.

The governor declined to say Thursday how much money the moves could save or how many state jobs would be eliminated by farming out functions like human resources, purchasing and IT. The details would be included in her 2011-12 budget proposal, she said.

North Carolina flag, NC flag, state flag, N.C. flag Proposal would merge state agencies, eliminate jobs

"I know I'm not giving all the details. The devil's in the details, and those details will be excruciatingly painful," she said. "There will be layoffs. I'm not proud of saying it. I'm very worried about it."

She also called for an immediate hiring freeze in all cabinet agencies and asked other members of the Council of State to do likewise in their departments.

Finally, Perdue said she would present to lawmakers a list of 150 state boards and commissions that could be eliminated. Lawmakers should review each and retain only those that are justifiably needed, she said, noting that more than half of the existing state boards and commissions receive state funding.

"If we're going to reinvent this thing called state government, we simply can't do things the old way," she said. "It's really time to stop talking the talk and do something to fundamentally change the structure of this great state."

The last state government reorganization occurred in 1996. The last significant attempt to consolidate government departments failed in 1995 when Republicans balked at Gov. Jim Hunt's proposal to eliminate the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

Leading Republican lawmakers, including incoming House Speaker Thom Tillis, said they met with Perdue Thursday morning to discuss her plan, and they support the idea of streamlining state government.

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  • ecualumni1982 Dec 15, 2010

    I work in state gov and evaluate employee compensation packages regularly, the facts are that the majority of state employees (excluding those in Raleigh) earn far less than the private market, just look at the state pay ranges (see: market refs) vs what we are actually paying state workers. If you look at the data, you will see that NC is getting a huge bargain. We are getting qualified people to do jobs that pay 20-30K less than other states and private companies. So, I don’t see how farming out state employee jobs will really save the state money in the long run. Example, if we pay an HVAC mechanic 40K per year to maintain a building and most private companies pay their employees 60K per year, how does hiring the private contractor this add up to a savings? Yes consolidating resources like Purchasing, IT, HR, accounting, etc could produce a cost savings in theory, but what of the initial systems, training, and conversion costs. Also, other states have privatized and shown no real

  • mjackson1515 Dec 13, 2010

    Have they looked at the nutrition department? It seems that there are huge wastes there. Tremendous amount of unnecessary travel with locations for meetings sometimes set in the interest of what would make a nice vacation location for personal tourist interest on the weekend prior to or after the actual meetings , (they can bring their families at their own expense however still doesn’t warrant having a meeting in a state that doesn’t geographically touch any of the states that the attendees are from) The time off (sick/PTO) they get is very generous, it seems that we could almost hire extra person to cover that vacation time given to every 3 to 5 paid full time employees. Since I am not one of the employees holding one of these $65k - $100k positions and my information is peripheral at best I am just saying that since I have heard the bragging from two people I think that Bev should have a look at this department. It seems that even if what I have heard (some of which I h

  • TheBullCity Dec 10, 2010

    lol, I just heard this plan is supposed to save $150M. That is probably optimistic. So that's trimming the fat guys. Time to face reality, we have to do far more than just end waste.

  • ttruth2472 Dec 10, 2010

    why does the state of nc post jobs when it is not hiring and not hiring people who do not work for the state of nc. that in itself is a waste of money and time which also equals money. its still the same bs and will not change until nc govt.is shut completely down because DAS are running it

  • ASU Dec 10, 2010

    MakoII.......I find that hard to believe. Cops are drug tested randomly. If its so true why don't you report him or her to the Raleigh Police Department. They will terminate his or her employment for a positive drug test.

  • superman Dec 10, 2010

    Didnt hear anything about what she is suggesting for the ABC boards and how liquor is sold and distributed in the state.

  • jscletsplay1002002 Dec 10, 2010

    Mako:
    But you make how much?
    Cops do not make much money at all, they are hiring all the time and thier pay scale is posted along with the job posting.
    You couldnt pay me that little to do what they do and see what they see. They are not compensated correctly for the work that they do, do. Maybe the eating donuts,as you refered to (downtime, I might call it) is compensation.
    I would think having a police officer there, when I need them and when a robbery, etc... is taking place that a police officer is on the way, is a whole lot better than not having one, because they sent him/her home because nobody was calling 911.
    Hey, the new Police Chief of the City of Raleigh helped push my friends car to the side of the road when it broke down, He stood and pushed right beside me, He made sure that things were going to be alright before he left. Thats the type of leader I am willing to follow. Thats the type of fellow employee, I enjoy working with, and no I am not a police officer and I wasnt

  • MakoII Dec 10, 2010

    JKKC,

    BTW, I am not a manager. Self-employed. No employees. Contract.

    But if you're comparing me, a person who has to obey all sorts of tax and confidentiality laws versus the cops I know who break laws all the time because their fellow officers won't arrest them, then you'll have a fair comparison. One cop I knew said he never touched pot UNTIL he joined the Raleigh police force. Nice. I've never met a police force that wasn't corrupt in a city.

    I may not ticket a middle class driver trying to get home. No, I don't have to practice economic vampirism. And I don't have quota's. I am judged on quality and effectiveness. Or I don't get paid.

    Cops get paid whether they eat donuts, kill someone, hand out a ticket, or get juicy after-hours security work to stand in a doorway.

  • MakoII Dec 10, 2010

    JKKC,

    I was wrong about the retirement years. Cops, 30. Judges, 24 years. I must have been thinking about NYC cops.

    I think your pay should reflect your type of work, not your time of service.

    I have no doubt that Cops put themselves at great risk and earn their retirement. However, it would be remiss to think that other State Employees do not.

    There are DENR employees walking through swamps and working in rivers that can kill you as quick as a perp can.

    There is the slow kill of some workers working in active health hazards. For example, as my friends at laboratories point out, their profession has way higher cancer numbers than other careers due to their chemical exposures.

    Every worker should be PAID for their skill/craft, and the pensions, benefits, raises should be equal and merit oriented.

  • jscletsplay1002002 Dec 10, 2010

    Well, I sorta understand why that law is here. Me being a local gov employee,and a taxpayer, etc...

    I am considered essential personel. I must be available to odd working hours when it snows, ice, leaf removal, hurricanes,etc... etc...
    I choose this job, of course I could work anywhere else and make more a lot more money, but I dont. I made the choice of having a lower pay with halfway decent benefits (which we loose more of - more and more every year) Our medical benefits are getting worse and worse every year. But I have it, Or at least something like one,lol. There are plenty of other work places that have decent benefits, been there done that, but I chose this job. I like looking out for the taxpayers - including myself, in my work place.

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