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Cabarrus County IT Leader to Retire, Shift to Private Sector

After working with the North Carolina county for nearly three decades, former CIO and current Area Manager of Innovation Debbie Brannan has accepted a position with digital service and payment facilitator PayIt.

A person about to press a power button next to the word "innovation."
Debbie Brannan, the former CIO and current area manager of innovation for Cabarrus County, N.C., is set to retire Thursday, closing a 29-year career leading the county’s technology team.

“I started out as a COBOL programmer on a Honeywell system, then moved into an IBM mainframe when I became an ITS systems manager and then moved into management as CIO,” Brannan said.

Not long after that, she moved to the county manager’s office to serve as area manager of innovation.

Over the years, Brannan oversaw several initiatives, including being one of the first counties to offer GIS mapping via the Internet, implementing an online tax payment system and fostering a forward-thinking culture within the department.

“We try to make sure all services are available in one spot and try to anticipate citizens’ needs and what they are looking for,” Brannan said.

As for creating a cultural change, CIO Todd Shanley said, “one of the things she provided us with from an IT perspective is switching from a mentality of addressing things one day at a time to providing depth and focus to work on things that can benefit the county in the future.”

For example, Shanley said, one of the projects that fell into this category was the partnership with PayIt to create an online tax payment system for citizens called myCabCo.

Through the system, residents can log in to the portal and chat with a chatbot to review their county property taxes by providing their parcel number, account number, bill number, name or property address. Once the information is found, residents can pay their bills online.

“With PayIt, we had just started working with them in December or January right before the pandemic started and went live around the time tax bills went out,” Brannan said. “It was perfect timing, although it wasn’t planned.”

After working with the company in that capacity, Brannan decided to accept a full-time position with them as a customer success manager overseeing the North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida divisions.

“I look forward to working with other state agencies to help them with their digital services,” she said.

As for her replacement, that is still to be decided. “We haven’t really discussed that,” Shanley said. “But, until then, we look forward to advancing the projects we are currently working on.”
Katya Maruri is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.