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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Institute of Government

by Robert E. Ireland, 2006

School of Government buildling, UNC Chapel HillThe concept of the Institute of Government was devised by state official and academician Albert Coates in 1931, when he recognized that many local governments in North Carolina did not have the time, resources, or personnel to stay abreast of legal and political changes taking place at five overlapping governmental levels. He proposed to meet these deficiencies through a series of guidebooks, a clearinghouse of information, and a central meeting place near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coates established a steering committee in 1931, held an organizational meeting the next year, distributed 100,000 copies of his plan to the general public, and by September 1932 held the first training program for public officials. His staff produced the publication Popular Government for local officials, as well as a legislative service. In 1939 a $100,000 building was dedicated for the use of the Institute of Government, mainly through the generosity of several large contributors. In 1942 the institute became a part of the University of North Carolina.

Now under the umbrella of UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Government, established in 2001, the Institute of Government continues to provide educational, advisory, and research support for local and state governments. It is the largest university-based local government training, consulting, and research organization in the country, sponsoring more than 200 classes, seminars, schools, and specialized conferences for more than 14,000 public officials annually. The success of the institute is due to a unique relationship with North Carolina's nearly 700 county and municipal governments. Elected officials, city and county managers, finance directors, purchasing agents, information services directors, attorneys, budget directors, school officials, and numerous other public managers and employees have regular contact with faculty and staff. Every year the institute publishes more than 100 books, bulletins, chapters, articles, and other reference works related to state and local government. When the General Assembly is in session, the institute's Legislative Reporting Service puts out the Daily Bulletin in print and electronic format for legislators and others.


Albert Coates, The Story of the Institute of Government (1981).

Additional resources:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Government.

Image credit:

"Knapp-Sanders Building, School of Government." Visitor information, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government. Online at Accessed 6/13/2012.



In light of the recent felony conviction of Eden's city manager, a local attorney stated, "I believe citizens should drive to the Institute of Government after an appointment and ask about full audits, about misfeasance and the possibility of malfeasance by the city council & those in the finance department and even the city attorney in a lack of oversight, and about how citizens can demand civil lawsuits against the Corcorans--including the adult children--and anyone else in the office who enabled this. The people in the city who work for us were obligated to say "no" and protect the taxpayers--this simply wasn't done because they were cowed by a bully." He continues with, " I hold no ill will towards the city council--they, and the city employees, were simply inept and didn't want to rock the boat. Some were bullied and blinked. Others didn't do their jobs, discover what was apparent, and stand up. But the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for their lack of backbone and unwillingness to do the hard and often uncomfortable parts of their jobs. I just hope they acknowledge this, have a full accounting, enact effective and foolproof oversight, dismiss people from employment who didn't do their job and speak up or wrote term papers at work for the children while on the city payroll or failed to oversee time cards, and--I consider this very important because of the message it sends--file suit to recover ever dime wrongfully taken from Brad for his use of cars, travel time for vacations, and his children, and his daughter in law if the time records to not verify that that physical work paid for was not performed. "

At the special city council meeting last night, the Mayor and the City Council amended a city ordnance that allowed a pre-determined City Director to be eligible for the interim city manager position at the exclusion of any other qualified candidate external to the city limits. The Mayor had announced this candidacy to Channel 2 News two days before this meeting and it became obvious to the taxpayers that this decision was a matter of undue mayoral influence and continued favoritism and cronyism.

So with that said, how do the taxpayers of Eden, NC, create an organization that meets regularly in order to institute change and get an appointment with the Institute of Government and ask ''...about full audits, about misfeasance and the possibility of malfeasance by the city council & those in the finance department and even the city attorney in a lack of oversight, and about how citizens can demand civil lawsuits against the Corcorans--including the adult children--and anyone else in the office who enabled this."?

We need to do this in order to clean house and wash our dirty laundry.


my property along with my neighborhood was forces annexed into the Town of Smithfield in 1994 and the Town has not provided water or sewer to our area. My neighbors home was destroyed by fire in January 2018 and water had to be trucked to the fire to attempt to extinguish it. The Town was ask to provide fire protection to this area at the same level as the rest of the Town at no cost to us because we have been paying taxes the same as the rest of the Town since 1993. We have been ignored and not even responded to. I believe the general statutes in 1993 required the Town to provide services to any forced annexed that are provided to the rest of the Town. What can we do to force the Town to provide these services?


I am looking for the most recent version of a book that the Institute of Government once published--Administrative and Financial Laws for Local Government in North Carolina. The NC Department of Commerce would like a volume for staff. Is it possible that you would have one on hand that we could purchase? I've not found it at the School of Government website or on Amazon. Thank you.


Can anyone speak at an open meeting of town commissioners


Hi, Mark.

That is a very good question. I recommend you get in contact with a commissioner in your town, district, county, etc., and find out what their procedures are and when they meet. 

Thank you.

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library


For county government tax collectors is the tax payment date of receipt the day payment was stamped by US Post Office or the date it was actually received in the tax office?


Dear Sirs:

In a class action suit does the Class Representative have the right to reject a settlement offer coming from the defendants? Can you cite a court ruling or law which affords the Class Representative the right to reject the settlement offer?

Jim Little


Dear Jim,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and for sharing your question.

NCpedia is the online encyclopedia of North Carolina and you visited the article on the Institute of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill.

It sounds like you may be looking for help from them with your question.  Here is a link to their website:  They have resources related to many topics and questions about the law.  You will also find their contact information on the website.

I hope this helps.  Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan

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