by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
A memo was released this week from the state budget director highlighting the focus of efficiency and effective budgeting under Governor McCrory. According to the Office of State Budget and Management and the Office of State Human Resources, there are 2,500 positions in state government that have remained vacant for at least 12 months. Here are the specifics of the initiative:
Abolishing positions in state agencies, excluding the University System, that, as of April 17, 2015, have been vacant for 12 months or longer and have not been filled by July 1, 2015.This applies to positions funded from any source of funds, including those funded in whole or in part with state appropriations, federal funds, grants, and state agency or other receipts.
Allowing agencies to re-align unused budgeted salaries and benefit funds to a reserve account located within each fund to be realigned at a later date to cover operating accounts that are historically not funded adequately.
Consideration by OSBM and OSHR of exceptions on a case-by-case basis where an agency can document in writing that abolishing a long-term vacant position(s) will directly result in:
1) A risk to the safety, health and/or well-being of our citizens; or
2) An impact to the State’s ability to meet federal or state maintenance of effort requirements or mandatory staffing levels for vital services.
Unlike the private sector, where if a position is vacant the money is not spent, the government appropriates the amount of salary required for the positions within the agency or department – regardless if the position is filled or not. For example, Agency X has 25 positions, but they have only filled 20 of those. Agency X still gets the funding for the 25 positions and if they decide not to hire anyone, and the money can be spent elsewhere. Not very transparent or a good use of taxpayer dollars. Hopefully this change will save some money and help government operate a bit more efficiently.