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Morning Roundup: A N.C. company touted by President Obama closes abrubtly

A North Carolina furniture company closed abruptly Thursday just one year after it was hailed by President Barack Obama as an example of the recovering U.S. economy. Lincolnton Furniture Company operations stopped indefinitely and only a few people will remain employed moving forward, company financial officer Ben Causey said. Full story here.

More political headlines:

--North Carolina's congressional delegation is now firmly Republican after GOP redistricting redrew the political favor. Here's a look at Raleigh Republican George Holding's outlook as a freshman. He has one priority: cutting spending.

--For Raleigh-based state government workers who endured four years without a pay raise, the free bus pass was a nice benefit while it lasted. The state ended its funding.

Longtime state spokeswoman leaves for Philanthropy Journal

Jill Lucas is the new managing editor of the Philanthropy Journal, part of the Institute for Nonprofit Research, Education and Engagement at N.C. State.

Until Friday, Lucas was spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration. She had also worked in the governor's office and for the Governor's Highway Safety Program.

Legislators seek more info on plans for new DHHS campus

The Republican co-chairmen of the Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services sent a letter this week to the secretary of the Department of Administration asking for more information about plans to consolidate DHHS workers onto a single campus.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, Rep. Justin Burr and Sen. Louis Pate have asked Sec. Moses Carey, Jr. to provide answers to six questions by Monday at 5 p.m. The questions cover a range of issues, including whether DOA's cost-effectiveness analysis of the project took into account various DHHS lease payments.

Aduit finds poor oversight of state contracts

A new state audit says the N.C. Department of Administration is doing a poor job of managing an Internet-based procurement system that is supposed to save money through the use of established government contracts for basic goods and services.

State law generally requires state agencies to purchase supplies, materials and equipment from existing contracts overseen by administration department. Workers in other agencies buying supplies are supposed to use an E-procurement system that provides a searchable database of approved state contracts, using another vendor only if a contract for the particular good or service is not listed.

However, state auditors who reviewed the system found that workers at the administration department sometimes when as long as 18 months without updating information about new contracts in the system. That could lead other agencies not to comply with the requirement to use the established purchasing contract because they were unaware of its existence.

The auditors also found that the department didn’t have adequate checks in place to ensure that agencies were adhering to the purchasing requirements.

Another problem is that the administration department often had approved contracts for the same good or service with multiple vendors at different prices, causing state workers to sometimes violate the law by not buying from the lowest-priced vendor.
An example are the multiple state contracts for recycled printer toner cartridges. Auditors found that there were at least 24 products with multiple vendors and different prices, costing the state at least $12,500 by not making all the purchases from the lowest priced vendor.

In addition, many agencies were buying new toner cartridges at $120.65 under one approved state contract rather than buying the cheaper remanufactured ones for $28.37, wasting at least $41,211 on purchases of that single item, according to the audit.



Document(s):
State Contracts Audit.pdf

Britt Cobb new Perdue chief of staff

Britt Cobb is Gov. Bev Perdue's new chief of staff, her office announced Friday.

Cobb, a longtime government employee, replaces Zach Ambrose, who resigned last month.

Former Gov. Mike Easley appointed Cobb to run the state Department of Agriculture after Meg Scott Phipps resigned in a campaign fund raising scandal. 

After Cobb lost the 2004 agriculture election, Easley appointed him to run the Department of Administration. 

Cobb kept that job under Perdue, so several dominoes must fall with his move to Perdue's staff March 1.

Moses Carey, who is chairman of the Employment Security Commission, will take Cobb's job as Department of Administration secretary. Lynn Holmes, a consultant and former BellSouth executive, will take Carey's job.

Don Hobart, one of Perdue's top aides, will be a chief adviser for business and economic development, a position funded through the state Department of Commerce. 

Kevin McLaughlin, chief operating officer at Administration, will move to Perdue's staff with Cobb to become deputy chief of staff. 

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