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Audit says a state government consolidation move may not pay off

From AP: An audit says it's hard to tell if consolidating North Carolina's state agency computer networks has improved government services and saved taxpayer dollars because there are no concrete measures in place to evaluate the changes.

State Auditor Beth Wood's office released Friday a performance review of whether the overhaul of state's information technology system starting in 2004 is paying off. The idea is to get agencies using the same computer platforms to save money and ensure programs in different departments can “talk” to each other.

State can't track how many cars it owns

How many cars does the state of North Carolina own? If you pegged it near 30,000, your estimate is as good as the state's guess. "The state does not know the number of vehicle it owns," Pamela Taylor told state lawmakers Wednesday.

Taylor's report for the Program Evaluation Oversight Committee revealed the state does not keep adequate track of its vehicles and license plates nor the costs associated with maintaining the fleet.

State agencies and institutions reported owning 28,669 vehicles worth about $183 million but a comparison with a vehicle registration database found 2,346 discrepancies. 

At some agencies, as many as 20 people are charged with managing the vehicle fleet. "With different people in charge, we cannot be sure the vehicles are being managed properly," Taylor told the committee.

In the end, the lawmakers voted to get more answers by requiring state agencies to reconcile the errors and find a better tracking system.

Perdue warns of a big shakeup in state government

Gov. Bev Perdue cautioned state officials Tuesday to expect “a big announcement in early November about merging, eliminating, consolidating pieces of state government.”

The governor made her comments at the end of a Council of State meeting, and did not offer any details.

But Chrissy Pearson, her spokeswoman, noted that the state faces a projected $3.5 billion to $4 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year beginning next July, when the federal money from the stimulus package runs out.

“You've heard her say for some time, that this bad economy we are suffering from is also an opportunity, if we chose, to transform state government,” Pearson said. “That includes consolidating pieces of state government, from programs to potentially agencies.”

Pearson said the recommendations will likely come in early to mid November. Some may require legislative action.  Perdue believes that her ideas for consolidating government would likely find support in the legislature, from both Democrats and Republicans, Pearson said.

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