RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory announced the heads of two new cabinet departments at a ceremony at the capitol Tuesday. Chris Estes will serve as state chief information officer of the Department of Information Technology and Cornell Wilson will serve as secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The departments were created in the budget bill after McCrory called for them in his State of the State speech and included them in his budget proposal.
“Since day one, our administration has been focused on making state government more efficient so that we can better serve the people of North Carolina,” said McCrory. “Both Chris Estes and Cornell Wilson have the skills, dedication and experience to lead the Departments of Information Technology and Military and Veterans Affairs to better serve our state for generations to come.”
The governor highlighted accomplishments in both information technology (IT) and for military affairs and veterans. McCrory says that the nationally recognized “iCenter,” led by Estes, has saved taxpayers more than $6 million by allowing the state to try technology solutions before buying. For the military and veterans, McCrory has championed in-state tuition for veterans, veterans driver’s licenses, veterans treatment courts, and counting military experience for becoming things like commercial driver’s or police officers. The governor cited the newly created departments as a way to build on this progress.
The aim of the new Department of Technology Information will be to improve management and oversight in IT for state government with the focus of improving customers service, increasing efficiency and cutting down costs, the administration says. McCrory says that when he entered office, the state had more than 1,000 systems scattered across state government “without oversight and accountability.” According to the state, this led to 74 percent of projects coming in over budget and behind schedule.
The new department will continue to streamline the state’s information technology systems. Chris Estes has served under Governor McCrory as state chief information officer since January 2013. In this role, he has overseen statewide IT planning and operations with an annual budget of more than $600 million and 2,200 employees.
The new Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will focus on protecting North Carolina’s military installations, working with the communities around military bases, helping military families and veterans get the support and services they need, and helping connect veterans with jobs, according to McCrory. Cornell Wilson, DMVA’s new secretary, has been McCrory’s military affairs adviser since October 2013. A retired Major General in the Marines, he served as commander of the Marine’s Southern Command, where he was responsible for a $1.5 billion budget and 81,000 Marines and civilians.