RALEIGH — On Feb. 4, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that James Trogdon, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, would be resigning at the end of February in order to return to the private sector.
Cooper named Trogdon’s replacement, Eric Boyette, who currently serves as the secretary of the Department of Information Technology. The governor also announced the appointment of Tracy Doaks as secretary of DIT.
“Eric Boyette and Tracy Doaks have served our state with distinction throughout their careers, and I am pleased that they will continue working on behalf of all North Carolinians,” said Cooper in a statement. “I thank Secretary Trogdon for his service to North Carolina and the Department of Transportation.”
Eric Boyette was appointed secretary and state chief information officer for DIT in April 2017 by Cooper. He was named the NC Tech Public CIO of the Year in 2019 and held several leadership roles at NC DOT in the past, including chief information officer, inspector general and Division of Motor Vehicles commissioner.
Most recently, Boyette has been involved in a dispute with Republican superintendent of public instruction Mark Johnson on the implementation of a new reading assessment tool called Istation.
Tracy Doaks has been working at DIT as chief deputy state chief information officer and chief services officer since November 2015. She was named the NC Tech Public CIO of the Year in 2018.
Doaks worked for Duke Medicine prior to joining DIT, where she served as the senior director of service delivery. She also serves as an advisory board member of MCNC and is a member of both the North Carolina Center for Public Policy and Research Board and N.C. State’s Computer Science Strategic Advisory Board.
While receiving praise for his service, Trogdon was also criticized by some for how he handled the department’s finances.
“On behalf of taxpayers, DOT employees and contractors, we look forward to working with Mr. Boyette to bring DOT out of the multibillion-dollar ditch that it has dug over the last 16 months,” N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell, a Republican, told NSJ. “Only through an accurate accounting of the money that has been spent, and will be spent, can we ensure a stable road building program while still maintaining the state’s coveted ‘AAA’ credit rating.”
Folwell reiterated that he hopes that the governor has found the best possible person for the position.
“We’re basically asking the question that any backer would ask anyone who wants a loan: where is the money going to be spent, who is it going to and when is it going to be paid back?” Folwell said.
“You can see by the latest Debt Affordability study that the governor has maxed out the credit card on transportation for the next 10 years,” Folwell told NSJ, referring to a press release on the matter from his office.
According to that study, “Transportation debt service will increase markedly over the model horizon.”
“Assuming all $3 billion of the Build NC Bonds are issued, the cap that transportation debt service to revenues not exceed 6% will be violated beginning in FY 2027 resulting in no transportation debt service capacity,” the study says.
Folwell said that last week the NC DOT had asked for another $100 million from the Highway Trust Fund to overcome February shortages.
The NC DOT’s cash-strapped situation forced upwards of 900 road projects to be paused last August, leading to a ripple effect of layoffs for contractors and other short-term workers.