Under the Dome

Dome: NC DOT losing one of its generals

bsiceloff@newsobserver.com lbonner@newsobserver.comOctober 1, 2013 

TARHEEL.061212.TI

Jim Trogdon, chief operating officer with N.C. DOT, was recently named a major general in the N.C. National Guard. Tar Heel of the Week. Photographed in Raleigh Wednesday, June 12, 2012.

TAKAAKI IWABU — tiwabu@newsobserver.com

The state Department of Transportation will lose one of its military stars when Jim Trogdon, who doubles as a two-star general in the state National Guard, retires at the end of October from his job as DOT’s chief operating officer.

Trogdon, 51, who started work at DOT as a pavement engineer in 1985, is going to work for Atkins, a U.K.-based engineering and project management firm, as a Raleigh-based vice president with responsibilities in four mid-Atlantic states. He’ll continue his part-time duty as deputy adjutant general, second-in-command, for the National Guard.

He is the top-ranking Democrat in a state agency reporting to a Republican governor, but there was no indication Tuesday that Trogdon’s superiors wanted to see him go.

“He has played an integral role in this organization and served as an invaluable colleague and adviser to me during my time here, and he will be greatly missed by us all,” Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said Tuesday in an email to DOT employees.

In a news release, Tata added: “We recognize that it is challenging to retain some of our most talented public servants when private industry can be more competitive.”

Tata, a retired one-star Army general, recently named another retired Army general, Kelly Thomas, to take command of the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Trogdon, who became DOT’s chief deputy for operations five years ago, is credited with moving DOT to a more data-driven system for funding and prioritizing transportation projects. He bolstered DOT’s lagging support in the legislature during the administration of Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue and earned the esteem of Republican legislative leaders who always, unlike his DOT co-workers, addressed him as Gen. Trogdon.

Trogdon, a Hope Mills native, earned bachelor’s and master’s engineering degrees at N.C. State University. His military record includes a Bronze Star and a 16-month deployment in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.

He said he received a generous job offer from Atkins just as he was ready for a new challenge.

“Five years is the longest I’ve stayed in any job,” Trogdon said. “My philosophy is you’ll do what you can usually in four years. After that, you have to move out of the way and let somebody else have an opportunity to bring new skills to the job. If you’re not growing in this business, you’re in trouble.”

NCTracks still bumpy

Officials at the state Department of Health and Human Services predicted three months of bumpy road for the new Medicaid bill-paying system called NCTracks.

The system hit its three-month mark Tuesday, and some providers are still hitting bumps.

DHHS sent out a press release marking 90 days of NCTracks that uses the words “proactive” or “proactively” six times – as in the department is “proactively reaching out” to providers who need help.

The N.C. Hospital Association sent DHHS information technology chief Joe Cooper a letter dated Tuesday that details four problems hospitals are having getting money out of NCTracks, including denial of claims because the system requires codes that don’t exist and improper payment of inpatient claims.

These issues affect hospital operations and “also will affect the state’s cash flow in the Medicaid budget if not resolved with dispatch,” association President William Pully wrote.

“Although our joint efforts have enabled our member hospitals to resolve some of the issues, hospitals and other providers continue to experience serious problems with NCTracks,” he wrote. “We look forward to continuing to work together to address those problems.”

DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz said Cooper met with Pully and other hospital association reps Monday.

Goodwin gets NY fundraiser

State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin will be in New York City on Wednesday for a fundraiser for his re-election campaign, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

The event at Tavern 29 is being hosted by Karl Wall, president and chief executive officer of Enstar, a company that specializes in the operation and management of insurance companies.

The cost of attending the event ranges from $500 to $4,000.

Staff writers Bruce Siceloff, Lynn Bonner and Rob Christensen

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