by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
In Gov. McCrory’s Recommended Budget for the 2015-17 biennium, he suggested the creation of two new cabinet-level departments, a Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and a Department of Information Technology. Before North Carolina decides to expand its cabinet and create new departments, a thorough evaluation and analysis of current operations needs to be performed for both veterans affairs and information technology. The purpose of this study, then, is to evaluate each proposal within the context of its unique benefits and challenges.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ policy that applies to both of these areas. Since the early 1980s, there have been two recurring themes in discussions of information technology needs – consolidation of IT functions and spending IT funds wisely. Information technology demands immediate attention due to the state’s extensive reliance on technology and the potential for security breaches. There have been many attempts to manage the state’s IT through commissions and the creation of a separate division, but comprehensive reform cannot be accomplished within the existing constraints. The creation of a Department of Information Technology would consolidate disparate operations and break down current bureaucratic barriers between agencies, while also creating opportunities for increased government efficiency and cost savings.
Veterans programs, on the other hand, have been housed within the Department of Administration for nearly half a century. There have been few systemic problems with the core functions or mission of the many programs that serve North Carolina’s veterans and their families. While the state could improve efficiency in some of its veterans programs, there is no compelling reason to create a new department.