RALEIGH: NC computer system upgrade director leaving job - WNCN: News, Weather

NC FAST upgrade director leaving job

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The director in charge of a statewide computer system designed to streamline North Carolina government assistance applications is leaving his job early next month for the private sector.

The state Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that NC FAST program director Anthony Vellucci is heading to a health care software and information technology services firm. Vellucci has led the team implementing NC FAST since 2010.

Vellucci is leaving his job after receiving a salary increase of more than $23,000 last June to more than $168,000, according to state government records. Department Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos told lawmakers in a letter the increase was needed to keep Vellucci from being lured away by another employment offer. Now Vellucci is joining Maryland-based EngagePoint.

NC FAST is a $300 million computer system designed to help residents and case workers in all 100 county social service agencies determine eligibility for Medicaid, food stamps and other services. Joe Cooper, the department's chief information officer, praised Vellucci for his work turning 19 legacy computer systems performing such services into one.

"His unwavering dedication to this complex and far-reaching initiative will ensure that North Carolinians are better served by DHHS and county social services for years to come," Cooper said in a news release. "Anthony's passion, outstanding work ethic and expertise will be missed."

Operations related to NC FAST received much blame for backlogs in food stamp applications and renewals in recent months. DHHS leaders said in September a NC FAST computer software upgrade in July contributed to a backlog, but by October they told an oversight committee problems had been addressed.

But the backlog grew late last year, leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture to threaten the state with the loss of administrative funds to run its food stamp program unless NC FAST was improved and backlogs went away. DHHS also said expanded local case worker responsibilities while using the program also led to delays.

Department leaders said NC FAST defects had been fixed and the program worked well as a backlog of more than 20,000 applications was almost completely eliminated by last week. USDA said it's satisfied for now with the progress.

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