State Politics

Cooper fills out Cabinet with tax collector, IT boss

IT Secretary Eric Boyette, Gov. Roy Cooper and Revenue Secretary Ron Penny at the Executive Mansion in Raleigh on Friday.
IT Secretary Eric Boyette, Gov. Roy Cooper and Revenue Secretary Ron Penny at the Executive Mansion in Raleigh on Friday. N&(

Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday named the final two members of his Cabinet, selecting two veterans of state government to oversee information technology and tax collection.

Ron Penny was named to run the Department of Revenue and Eric Boyette to run the Department of Information Technology.

The appointments, made more than three months into Cooper’s term, complete the 10-member Cabinet. Cooper said at a news conference that a combination of interviewing potential candidates and dealing with pressing issues at the General Assembly delayed the final selections.

The full Cabinet reflects ground-breaking diversity. Half of the Cabinet members are African-American, and three are women. Their backgrounds are a mix of state and federal employment and private-sector experience.

Cooper introduced the new appointees to the news media at the Executive Mansion.

Boyette, who comes from the state Department of Transportation, faces the challenge of improving the state’s lagging IT system, which has been criticized in a number of audits. Asked about that on Friday, Boyette said the audits would be reviewed and discussed with state agencies.

“With the right technology in place and applied at the right time, great things can happen,” Boyette said in prepared remarks. “Each department has unique needs. It’s DIT’s job to ensure we apply the technological solutions to those needs, and also to be fiscally responsible.”

Cooper said IT is one of the state’s biggest challenges, and requires making the most out of limited funding to keep the state’s technology up to date. He said that would require a mix of outsourcing and use of state employees, and making sure the departments are as coordinated as possible.

Penny, who spent eight years as the state’s personnel director, has been serving as acting secretary of revenue since the new administration arrived in January. His first job out of college was working in the agency’s mail room.

“I never dreamed about 40 years ago when I was dragging mail across the floor in the old Revenue Building that one day I would rise to be the secretary of the department,” Penny said.

“He will work to make that agency more effective and efficient,” Cooper said. “Paying taxes can be tough on people, so we want to make that process as easy as possible for taxpayers.”

Under a new law pushed by Republican legislators and enacted by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, the Senate is holding confirmation hearings on Cooper’s Cabinet appointees. The Democratic governor has sued to block that requirement, but a court ruling has allowed the confirmation process to go forward.

All eight of the appointees who have gone through hearings have been endorsed by the committees that questioned them. The Senate has confirmed five of them. Three are scheduled to appear before a nominations committee on Monday night: Susi Hamilton at the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Michael Regan at the Department of Environmental Quality, and Tony Copeland at the Department of Commerce.

Penny will make $130,935 a year, and Boyette $166,460.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

Secretary of Revenue

Ron Penny

He has been acting secretary in the department since January. He was an associate professor in the Department of Public Administration at N.C. Central University. Before that, he was the state personnel director.

He has a bachelor of science degree in economics from N.C. AT&T, and a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. He lives in Clayton.

Secretary of Information Technology

Eric Boyette

He comes from the Department of Transportation, where he was chief information officer and acting commissioner for the Division of Motor Vehicles.

He graduated from Barton College and received a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He lives in Kenly.