Tightening Government’s Belt, Responsibly
Tough economic conditions are forcing families and businesses throughout North Carolina and the nation to re-evaluate their spending practices and find ways of doing more with less. The same is true for state and local governments. North Carolina’s government must tighten its belt in order to deal with harsh economic realities … and do it in a way that doesn’t undermine crucial priorities like education and economic development.
Bev Perdue understands this challenge and is confronting it head on.
In what the Institute of Government at UNC Chapel Hill cited as one of the most sweeping consolidation and reform plans in North Carolina state government history, Governor Perdue proposed a multi-step plan in December of 2010 to cut bureaucracy by shrinking the number of cabinet agencies from 14 to 9; reducing the number of middle-managers; and consolidating purchasing, information technology and other support services. So far, the General Assembly has adopted much but not yet all of her plan by reducing the number of cabinet agencies to 11 and making many of her other proposed changes, with the remainder of Perdue’s plan still under study by the legislature. Perdue’s changes will save the state tens of millions of dollars annually.
And Perdue has done much more. For instance:
To prevent the growing abuse of tax dollars in the Medicaid system, Perdue established Medicaid SWAT teams that conduct on-site investigations using innovative technology to detect fraud. The SWAT team initiative is still new, but the early results indicate that the effort will save the state many millions of dollars through an aggressive attack on Medicaid fraud and abuse.
To stop politically motivated decisions that can interfere with efficient and appropriate use of transportation funds, Perdue removed decision-making authority for identifying, funding and prioritizing transportation projects from the appointed Department of Transportation Board and gave it back to the department’s engineers and professionals who are less likely to make decisions based on political considerations.
And to increase the public’s ability to hold government accountable for how it spends tax dollars, Perdue put all state contracts and grants under the governor’s prevue valued over $10,000 in a searchable online database called NCOpenBook. Expanding public access to this information is the best way to ensure fairness and integrity in the state’s contracting decisions.
Perdue has even forced major changes in the state’s procurement processes and motor fleet management practices in order to improve efficiency, save money and prevent waste.
Governor Perdue knows that preventing waste is essential – especially at a time like this when the state is struggling to maintain its support for critical needs such as education, job creation, public safety and healthcare.