The Micro and Macro View of the McCrory Cabinet

Published January 3, 2013

By Tom Campbell

By Tom Campbell

In assessing the leadership team Governor Pat McCrory has put together look at it from at least the micro and macro perspective.

The micro view is obvious: McCrory’s team is too white, too male, too old, too Republican and too Duke. Those who would have preferred a mosaic representation of our state would loved to have had more color, more gender, more geographic and more diverse experience among his selections. Even though McCrory’s press office was quick to point out that half of the appointments are either Democrats or Independents it would have been nice to see a bit more diversity.

But let’s switch lenses and look at the macro picture. What was McCrory’s mission? Wasn’t it to put in place the most experienced team who would be most likely to succeed? If you were given the reins of state government who would you want in your leadership team? Filter out your own biases and look simply at how well McCrory accomplished his mission. You have to say this is a pretty impressive group.

McCrory has been privately telling friends that state government is in a lot worse shape than even he had thought. His transition team has regularly been reporting program duplication, ill-defined objectives, poor personnel and budget distribution, bureaucracy and a myriad of problems that await the new administration. He is quick to say there is much to fix, no new money and not much time to fix the problems. His charge to the transition team has been to find the most capable leadership available.

Look at the latest appointments. Tony Tata was a bit of a surprise as DOT Secretary but as the number two commander in Afghanistan, General Tata brings leadership to one of our largest departments of state government. DOT is currently reinventing the way it does business and needs a good leader. Sharon Decker’s experience in corporate North Carolina will be a great benefit as she sells our state to both employers looking to relocate here, while encouraging current companies to expand. She has one of the most diverse resumes on the team. From Duke Energy to textiles to Divinity School to non-profits her background will help in all the aspects of Commerce and the administration.

Bill Daughtridge is another surprise but a great appointment to be Secretary of Administration. With six years of legislative experience he adds great knowledge of state government to the cabinet. He will be charged with reorganizing and honing a department badly in need of attention and his experience in managing people and budgets in the private sector will be a great help. And who can deny that Neal Alexander has the experience and knowledge to be a great director of the Office of State Personnel? Yes, he’s another Duke Power guy but go back to McCrory’s mission. Alexander looks extremely qualified to work in government as state employees will be facing many issues.

Taken as a whole McCrory’s cabinet has many layers of expertise and experience that can easily overlap in his stated goal of having departments work together to resolve issues. It might be as much as a year or so before we can properly evaluate them but here are some indicators to watch.

  1. Personnel changes – The legislature expanded the number of exempt positions from about 400 to 1,000. How much and how soon will we see turnover in these departments and at what levels?
  2. Replacements – Who will be chosen to replace current exempt employees? Will they just be FOP (friends of Pat), friends of legislators, Republicans or will qualified people be chosen to fill the slots?
  3. Morale – There is little question that morale among state employees is low. Can the new administration restore the pride among state workers who may not have experienced the layoffs or even pay cuts evident in the private sector but who more frequently find themselves uncompetitive with private sector employee pay and benefits? And can this be done when there isn’t likely to be more pay and benefits to offer?
  4. Results – Those familiar with state government know it turns as slowly as a big battleship. What new energy, what new initiatives and  what new actions will we see? And will it be a rubber stamp of the Republican agenda or will we see the McCrory agenda? “Where’s the Beef,” as the old Wendy’s TV commercial once asked?