RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The elaborate package of economic incentives pieced together at state, local and city levels to attract Google’s data center to Lenoir in Caldwell County has certainly drawn the attention of lawmakers.

That’s good.

Whether you agree with the plan stretched over 30 years to bring Google’s investment of up to $600 million and more than 200 jobs to hard-hit Caldwell County, you should be concerned about the secrecy involving the talks. Confidentiality is one thing, but absolutely secrecy about a deal involving so much public money is another matter.

On Thursday, House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate President Marc Basnight, both Democrats, said they had formed a committee to look into the entire incentives process.

The “Joint Select Committee of Economic Development Incentives” is to a degree bi-partisan with four Republican members out of 21. That’s a good sign. Hopefully the Google debate and economic incentive programs won’t be turned into political footballs because North Carolina does need a comprehensive but fair and as open a process as possible to be an effective player in the economic recruitment process.

The marching orders to the committee are:

• "How incentives are used in North Carolina and in other states, by both state and local governments, to attract new business;

• "The cost of incentives and their effectiveness in promoting economic development;

• "Ways to ensure that lawmakers have adequate information about potential projects when considering legislation and when tracking long-term use of incentives; and

• "Whether “clawback” provisions in various incentive programs sufficiently protect North Carolina’s investments in economic development. "

Clawback provisions are designed to make sure companies receiving incentives deliver on the jobs and investment promised.

“Our state has a successful record in creating jobs and economic growth, but we should always be looking for ways to improve our efforts,” Basnight said in a statement.

Hackney, who has his hands full already in replacing former leader Jim Black, said that legislators have a responsibility to look for “efficiencies” and “cost effectiveness.”

Nothing wrong with that.

Recruiting deals for Google, Dell, Novartis in Apex, Quintiles in Durham, and others are complex. Job training requires input from the state’s Community Colleges. Utilities get involved looking for ways to help sell more power. But the scale of the agreements also requires that the process be open to debate and scrutiny to help ensure the interests of everyone are protected.

Committee members and party affiliations are:

Senate members:

• David Hoyle, Chair – D

• Tony Foriest, Chair – D

• Pete Brunstetter – R

• Dan Clodfelter – D

• Janet Cowell – D

• Kay Hagan – D

• Fletcher Hartsell – R

• Clark Jenkins – D

• John Kerr – R

• Vernon Malone – D

• R.C. Soles – D

House members:

• Bill Owens, Chair – D

• Jennifer Weiss, Chair – D

• Alma Adams – D

• Nelson Cole – D

• Bill Daughtridge – R

• Pryor Gibson – D

• Mitch Gillespie – R

• Hugh Holliman – D

• Paul Luebke – D

• Joe Tolson – D

• William Wainwright – D