May 21, 2007

Death of the NC Progress Board

The latest NC budget does not include funding for the NC Progress Board. This, for now, sounds the death toll for the North Carolina Progress Board, an organization created by the state to monitor key policy areas and publish reports and charts indicating how the state has done in those areas compared to the region and the nation.

The Progress Board was founded in 1995 by a statute approved by the NC Legislature to track and report on indicators about the state's progress (or lack thereof). It has struggled in recent years to continue operations as the state reduced funding for the small organization and Governor Easley, the official chair of the Board, has avoided participating in Board activities and actually distanced himself from the group. The Governor, and one of his political advisors, Mac McCorkle, have criticized reports issued by the Board over the last couple of years because reports that accurately reflect how the state has been faring in many areas has not always cast a positive light on the Governor's time in office. In fact many of the reports show neutral or declining trends indicating the state has not kept up with the region or the nation and is not competitive in many key areas. A number of Scorecards are available on the internet comparing North Carolina to the southeast region and the nation.

When Mac McCorkle was appointed by the Governor a year ago to be the new Chair of the Progress Board he took it upon himself to aggressively dismantle the Board by refusing to hold additional board meeting, refusing to approve release of any new reports or continuing research efforts, and in late 2006 terminated all ongoing work to continue efforts to monitor trends and issue reports to state citizens and the Legislature. The last full report that was in process was a 2006 update on the state of Education in North Carolina and is available in it's final draft form.

A May 20, 2007, report in the Charlotte Observer reveals that the meager budget has not been included in new funds and the Progress Board has in effect been killed by the Governor and Mr. McCorkle...
Charlotte Observer
May 20, 2007
Jack Betts, Staff Writer

A good idea whose time is up -- for now

RALEIGH --One of the best government ideas of the 1990s has withered on the vine of neglect, politics and indecision.

The N.C. Progress Board -- created in 1995 during Jim Hunt's third term to take regular soundings of where the state stands in key policy areas -- has lost its staff and funding and closed its doors. Its Web site has a hopeful note: "The office is closed in conjunction with a study to move the Board into a proposed new organization in the UNC University system."

Maybe. But chances are it won't look anything like the Progress Board that Hunt set up as North Carolina's answer to the benchmarking movement sweeping the country.

The idea was compelling. The organization would be an independent agency that would focus on the latest research in education, health care, environment, the economy and other policy areas. It would make assessments about how North Carolina is faring in those areas and recommendations for improvement. Read more...