State Politics

Leaders chosen to run two new state Cabinet-level agencies

New cabinet members join governor's cabinet

New Military and Veterans Affairs Secretary Cornell Wilson and new IT leader Chris Estes join the governor's Cabinet in newly created positions.
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New Military and Veterans Affairs Secretary Cornell Wilson and new IT leader Chris Estes join the governor's Cabinet in newly created positions.

Gov. Pat McCrory expanded his Cabinet on Tuesday when the leaders of two new state departments — created to better coordinate information technology and to help veterans and military personnel — were sworn in.

Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Cornell Wilson, who has been the governor’s military affairs adviser since October 2013, will be secretary of the new Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He retired in 2010, after a 38-year military career served mostly in the reserves.

Chris Estes was named chief information officer in the new Department of Information Technology. He has been the state chief information officer since the new administration took over in January 2013.

McCrory said in his State of the State address this year that he intended to establish the new departments, which the General Assembly authorized in its budget passed this summer.

McCrory presided over the swearing-in ceremony held in the former House chamber of the State Capitol. N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds swore them in.

The new officials join the eight other department leaders who form the governor’s cabinet.

“Just because we’re creating two new departments doesn’t mean we have two new silos,” McCrory said. “We’re part of a team.”

McCrory said state efforts to help military veterans have been disjointed. The newly formed agency will focus on helping vets and their families, including helping them find jobs, and protecting the state’s military bases, the governor said.

McCrory said the state’s information technology has been scattered in more than 1,000 different systems without oversight, leading to 70 percent of IT projects coming in over budget and behind schedule. He mentioned Estes’ IT lab program, which allowed state purchasers to evaluated vendors’ products before they buy them, as a model of what he expects out of the new department.

Afterward, Wilson said he was honored to have been chosen for the job. “I’m looking for the challenges ahead and working for a great team,” he said.

Estes compared the new IT department to the state’s Department of Transportation when it was first created, as the 21st Century way of steering North Carolina’s growth.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

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