Spotlight On: North Carolina

is becoming more like its fellow control states. Just before the beginning of fiscal year 2011, the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission underwent a drastic change in the way it relates to hundreds of local ABC operations.

Following a debate over whether to privatize the state’s alcohol sales operation, Governor Bev Perdue decided against privatization and in favor of strengthening the state’s central operations and increasing its oversight of the 170-plus local ABC boards. The new legislation empowered the ABC commission and municipal governments, in addition to clarifying the mission of the local boards.

For the first time, the NCABC was given the authority to “establish performance standards for local boards…not limited to standards that address enforcement of ABC laws, store appearance, operating efficiency, solvency and customer service.”

“As a result, the commission added a staff auditor whose responsibility it is to visit local boards and monitor performance and make recommendations to improve operating efficiencies,” says Agnes Stevens, the NCABC Public Affairs Director.

The legislation also gave the commission the power to establish mandatory training for local board members, finance officers and general managers, which the commission put into effect immediately.

“We created training that provided all boards with the most current ABC laws and regulations so they could apply the requirements of the reform legislation – both the ethical and accountability requirements – along with uniform budget and performance processes,” Stevens says. The classes are four hour sessions, which include ethics and financial training.

Board members, general managers and finance officers are led by a contract trainer, and so far more than 800 have attended one of the dozens of sessions. Many of the finance officers were in new positions, as the legislation required all local ABC boards to have a finance officer with separate responsibilities from the general manager. The commission also plans follow-up sessions for new board members and senior board staff.

“Attendees though the information was worthwhile and enjoyed discussing real-life ethical dilemmas and having the opportunity to bounce ideas off their peers from other boards,” Stevens says. “We also believe citizens of the state would and do approve of local boards having greater accountability to local elected officials and the state ABC commission, which is one of the effects of the training and uniform budget process.”


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