Evaluation of North Carolina state website

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NC.gov is the website for the state of North Carolina.

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB
Budget
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Usability P
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Elected Officials
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Administrative Officials
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Ethics
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Audits
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Contracts
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Lobbying P
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Public records
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Taxes
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State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process


This website was reviewed on January 22, 2012.

The good

  • State agencies and employees are listed with contact information.[1]
  • State officials are listed with contact information.[2]
  • The state has a transparency website with useful links.[3]
  • Ethics information is posted.[4]
  • Bid opportunities are posted.[5]
  • State contracts are posted.[6][7]
  • Budgets are posted.[8]
  • Lobbyist lists are posted.[9]
  • Tax information is available.[10]
  • Information is available on the North Carolina Public Records Law, which states that public records requests may be sent to any employee in a department.
  • Audits are posted.[11]

The bad

  • The site has a search function and is relatively easy to navigate, but some specific information can be difficult to find, such as the state audits.
  • No information is available on Taxpayer-funded lobbying.

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website an "B+" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 87 out of 100.[12]

The scorecard that U.S. PIRG uses has 13 items and focuses on a separate state website that is searchable at the checkbook level. Sunshine Review, on the other hand, focuses on the availability of separate spending-related items; they do not need to be in a central database.

Item Possible points Notes
Checkbook-level website 30 Detailed expenditure information, including individual payments made to vendors.
Search by vendor 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by contractor or vendor name.
Search by keyword of activity 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by type of service or item purchased, category, or government fund.
Search by agency or departments 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by branch of government.
Contract or summary information 10 A copy of the contract or detailed summary information is included for the expenditures.
Historical expenditures 5 Checkbook-level expenditure data from previous fiscal years.
Grants and economic development incentives information 10 Awardee-specific grants and/or economic development incentives are included in the checkbook tool or elsewhere with specific award amounts.
Downloadable 3 Information can be downloaded for data analysis.
Tax expenditure reports 10 The state's tax expenditure report is linked on the website.
Off-budget agencies 2 Expenditures from quasi-public agencies are included on the website.
City and county budgets 2 Financial information for some local governments is accessible.
ARRA Funding 2 A link is provided to the state's website that tracks funding related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Feedback 2 Website users are capable and encouraged to give feedback about the site.

There are several similarities between the checklists. For both checklists, the searchability of information factors in to how usability is rated. Both checklists have an item relating to contracts, tax information, and the budget. The U.S. PIRG requires information for quasi public entities; Sunshine Review requires information on lobbying, which includes quasi public entities' lobbying activity.

Unlike the Sunshine Review checklist with each check worth one point, different items on the U.S. PIRG checklist merit more or fewer points, depending on the item.

State Integrity Investigation

The 2012 State Integrity Investigation graded state ethics laws according to an "Integrity Index." The index was created by researching 330 "Integrity Indicators" across 14 categories of state government. The report assigned grades based on what laws are on the books, and whether or not they were effectively enforced. The report was a project of The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International.[13]

North Carolina received an overall grade of C-, or 71%. It ranked 18 out of the 50 states.[14]

Category Grade
Public Access to Information F
Political Financing C-
Executive Accountability C+
Legislative Accountability D
Judicial Accountability D+
State Budget Processes F
State Civil Service Management C-
Procurement C-
Internal Auditing B
Lobbying Disclosure A
State Pension Fund Management B-
Ethics Enforcement Agencies C
State Insurance Commissions C+
Redistricting F

Transparency Legislation

2011

  • SB 344, The Government Transparency Act, would require:
  1. Reasons be given for all promotions, suspensions, demotions, transfers or separations.
  2. The release of performance records.
  3. Broadening the situations in which attorney fees can be awarded to winning plaintiffs, making it automatic for winners of all open meetings and open records lawsuits.[15]

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
NCOpenBook State Income and expenses 2011 http://www.ncopenbook.gov/NCOpenBook/
NC Recovery State Stimulus tracking 2011 https://www.ncrecovery.gov/
Office of State Budget and Management State State Budget and Management 2011 http://www.osbm.state.nc.us/
State Board of Elections State Campaign finance and lobbyist disclosure 2011 http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/
Fiscal Transparency Spotlight John Locke Foundation Agency grades 2008 http://www.johnlocke.org/site-docs/research/reportcard/spotlight.pdf
Data Charlotte Observer Employee salaries 2009 http://www.charlotteobserver.com/data/
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=NC

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of North Carolina and local governments in the state employed a total of 655,598 people.[16] Of those employees, 510,183 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $1,839,723,835 per month and 145,415 were part-time employees paid $150,416,252 per month.[16] More than 57% of those employees, or 377,690 employees, were in education or higher education.[16] The state employee work force has grown less than 1 percent since July 2008, when there were 92,627 workers at state agencies and universities.[17] As of April 2010, North Carolina employed 93,217 state workers.[17]

State employees have not received a raise since 2008; more than 2,300 state workers, however, pocketed a total of an $8.23 million from April to June 2010 because they were promoted, gained new skills, or took on added duties.[17]

The average state employee salary as of April 2010 was $41,723.[17]

State Employee Benefits

Holidays

The Office of State Personnel's website says that state employees receive 11 or 12 paid holidays annually, as set by the State Personnel Commission.[18]

However, the Commission's website lists only these nine holidays[19]:

  • New Year's Day
  • Lincoln's Birthday
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans' Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Sick Leave

Twelve days yearly of sick leave is provided to permanent, probationary, and trainee employees. Leave is prorated for part-time employees.[18]

Vacation

At least 94 hours (11 ¾ days) of vacation leave is provided yearly to permanent, probationary, trainee and provisional employees. As length of service increases, the amount of leave earned increases. Leave is prorated for part-time employees.[18]

Vacation leave:[18]

Years of Service Leave Granted Monthly
Less than 2 years 7 hrs. 50 mins.
2 but less than 5 9 hrs. 10 mins.
5 but less than 10 11 hrs. 10 mins.
10 but less than 15 13 hrs. 10 mins.
15 but less than 20 15 hrs. 10 mins.
20 years or more 17 hrs. 10 mins.

Other Leave

  • Civil leave is granted to employees serving on a jury or when subpoenaed as a witness.[18]
  • Community Service leave: State employees are allowed up to 24 hours per calendar year to volunteer in support of schools, communities, citizens and non-profit organizations. Parents may also use the leave for child involvement. State employees wishing to mentor or tutor a student may receive one hour per week (up to 36 hours) instead of the 24 hours annually. Additional time may be given for Emergency Services, Blood and Bone Marrow Donorship and Disaster Service Volunteer with the American Red Cross.[18]
  • Military leave up to a maximum of 120 hours per year.[18]

Insurance

A statewide group plan, which covers hospital and medical expenses, is available to employees at no additional cost. Family and dependent coverage is available at the employee's expense.[20]

Employees are eligible after one year of state service for short term disability; they are eligible for long-term disability after five years of service.[20]

A long-term care plan is optional.[20]

Other Benefits

The State Employees' Assistance Program is a confidential, free service of North Carolina State Government to assist employees and their immediate family members with personal problems before they disrupt personal or work life.[20]

NC Flex offers seven voluntary benefits pre-tax to employees working 20 or more hours per week in a permanent, probationary or time-limited position[20]:

  • Healthcare Flexible Spending Account
  • Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Account
  • Vision Care Plan
  • Voluntary Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
  • Traditional/Managed Care Dental Coverage
  • Cancer Insurance
  • Group Term Life

Pensions

The Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer administers the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System, Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System, Consolidated Judicial Retirement System and the Legislative Retirement System.[21] The NC Retirement Systems covers 820,000 members, approximately one in eight working state residents.[21]

The North Carolina Retirement Systems serves more than 820,000 state employees, making it the 10th-largest public pension fund in the country.[22]

Rate of Return

North Carolina presumes a 7.25% return rate on its pension investments.[23]

Funding Levels

The state's pension liabilities can be calculated in a variety of ways, which yield different numbers. Below are the numbers as calculated by to the Pew Center on the States,[24] the American Enterprise Institute[25] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[26]

In Thousands
PEW (2008) AEI (2008) Kellogg (2009)
$504,760 $48,898,412 $37,800,000

Other information from the Pew Center on the States Feb. 2010 publication "The Trillion Dollar Gap":

State Pension Funding Levels 2008 (figures are in thousands)[23]
Latest liability Latest unfunded liability Annual required contribution Latest actual contribution
$73,624,027 $504,760 $675,704 $675,056

Public Records

The North Carolina Public Records Law is designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in North Carolina. The first statute dealing with public documents in the state was passed in 1935. This law focused on the duty of government officials to preserve public records carefully.

The North Carolina Open Meetings Law legislates by which methods public meetings are conducted.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: North Carolina FOIA procedures.

External links

References

  1. NCGov, "Contacts," accessed January 22, 2012
  2. NCGOV "Government Officials," accessed January 22, 2012
  3. NCOpenBook.gov, "NCOpenBook," accessed January 22, 2012
  4. NCGov, "Ethics Commission," accessed January 22, 2012
  5. NCGov, "Bid Solicitations," accessed January 22, 2012
  6. NCOpenBook, "Contracts," accessed January 22, 2012
  7. NCGov, "Statewide Contracts," accessed January 22, 2012
  8. NCGov, "Budget Publications," accessed January 22, 2012
  9. NCGov, "Lobbyists," accessed January 22, 2012
  10. NCGov, "Tax Information," accessed January 22, 2012
  11. NCGov, "Financial Reports," accessed January 22, 2012
  12. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  13. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  14. North Carolina Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  15. "JD News" Legislation seeks more transparency March 18, 2011
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 2008 Illinois Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Yahoo! Finance "Thousands of NC workers split $8 million in raises" Sept. 15, 2010
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 Leave Benefits
  19. Holiday Schedule
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 Insurance Benefits
  21. 21.0 21.1 Retirement - North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer
  22. Carolina Journal Online "Public Employee Pension Debt Explodes" Dec. 16, 2010
  23. 23.0 23.1 Pew Center on the States "The Trillion Dollar Gap" Feb. 2010
  24. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  25. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  26. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)