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Guv’s “Budget Reform and Accountability Commission” meets

As is usually the case with most such studies, today’s first meeting of Governor Perdue’s new BRAC group was long on generalities and optimism and short on specifics. The group has a fairly grand charge (“to help ensure that the services and programs provided by State government are meeting established public goals in the most effective, efficient and measured way; that the operations of State government are streamlined and improved to achieve cost savings without sacrificing core missions and services; and that policies and laws support these goals to keep North Carolina competitive economically, educationally, environmentally, culturally, and socially”) and some prominent (albeit familiar) members, but whether it can really make a significant contribution to the state is an open question.

The group is chaired by former state Rep. and former Secretary of various state agencies Norris Tolson and current Community College Board chair and Progress Energy exec, Hilda Pinnix-Ragland. Other members include (I think this is the full list – not everyone was there and their website doesn’t appear to up yet):

  • Golden Leaf Foundation chief, Dan Gerlach,
  • former Marc Basnight top aide and current UNC employee, Norma Houston,
  • Institute of Minority Economic Development CEO, Andrea Harris,
  • former state Rep. George Miller,
  • former Glaxo bigwig and U.S. Senate candidate, Charles Sanders,
  • former Institute of Government faculty member, John Sanders,
  • former Wachovia boss John Medlin,
  • current state Budget Director, Charles Perusse,
  • Al Delia from the Guv’s office,
  • NCCU Department of Public Administration chair, Ron Penny, and
  • IBM exec, Curtis Clark.

Chief staffers for the group are Jonathan Womer and Anne Bander out of Perusse’s office.

Among the priorities:

  • -A review of state human services spending headed by Gerlach and Charles Sanders,
  • -A review of state “procurement” policies headed by Houston, and
  • -A review of state Information technology policies headed by Clark – which seems a little weird if he’s working for IBM. (Ragland informed the group that the state spends $1 billion a year on I.T.).

Notably absent from the discussion today: any close look at spending on giveaways to corporations via the tax code or direct subsidy.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens. Improved government efficiency is important and doesn’t just have to be a gotcha’ game. Let’s hope the group makes some headway.

Their next meetings are scheduled for October 13, November 6 and January 14.

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