Pat McCrory’s just captured the biggest tarbaby in North Carolina.
State government has never been a paragon of efficiency but after twelve years of Mike Easley and Beverly Perdue and pay-to-play politics it’s become an unusually broad and deep quagmire.
The state’s Medicaid claims processing contract is an example: Years ago when Mike Easley was governor his administration decided to put the contract – the biggest contract in state government – out to ‘bid.’ After mountains of lobbying it was awarded to the ACS corporation and then, almost immediately, one of the contract awarders (a former legislator and under secretary in the Easley administration) left the government to work for the company that won that contract.
Two years later the new data processing system was such a mess the state cancelled the contract, paid ACS millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to go away, and started all over.
This time the former legislator and under secretary changed hats and went to work as a lobbyist for another firm and, on the eve of Governor Perdue’s inauguration, his new client was awarded the $287 million contract. And a few days later, Governor Perdue appointed him Secretary of the department that awarded the contract.
Three years passed and, for the second time, the new data processing system was the cyber equivalent of a hole in the ground, years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. The Secretary-lobbyist-legislator solved the problem by extending his former client’s contract and agreeing to pay another $200 million dollars of taxpayers’ money.
That’s one example of what Pat McCrory is about to inherit. There’re dozens more. And Pat McCrory ought to throw them over the side. And get rid of the tarbabies. Otherwise, in four years, they’ll be his tarbabies.