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State health agency hires IT director

Joseph Cooper Jr., an information technology specialist with extensive professional experience at major banks, has been hired to be the chief information officer at the state Department of Health and Human Services.

This is a newly created executive-level position, and Cooper will earn $175,000 a year. He starts in early February.

Cooper will be responsible for all of the department's information technology projects, including the troubled Medicaid billing system, which is behind schedule and over budget.

Perdue asks for study of taking state IT private

Gov. Bev Perdue wants to take a look at privatizing parts of the state's IT operations.

In a memo to cabinet secretaries and executive branch agency heads, Perdue wrote that state spending on information technology accounted to more than $1.1 billion in fiscal 2009, and agencies under Perdue's control were more than half that total.

By August, Perdue's memo says, the state will be ready to ask a consultant to study the IT operations and make recommendations on how to save money and run things more efficiently. The idea was proposed by Perdue's budget reform commission.

"The goal is to move aggressively toward an improved IT infrastructure that will lower costs, reduce complexity and redundancy, improve the utilization of resources and increase security," Perdue wrote.

Chrissy Pearson, a spokeswoman for Perdue, said it's important to remember that no decisions have been made.

"I would caution anyone from thinking this is a done deal. This is a request to get information on how this might work," Pearson said. "Jobs remain on the top of the governor's list. While she is trying to trim the fat, she's not specifically looking to lose state employees for the sake of losing state employees."

IT memo.pdf
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