JLF Triangle Blog

When Will Bureaucratic Heads Roll Over The HHS Debacle?

The bureaucratic debacle at the state’s Health and Human Services department is outrageous. The latest slap in the face to taxpayers is this:

Angeline Sligh, director of the state’s long-delayed Medicaid payment processing system, collected $237,500 in overtime payments for which written authorization was never given, according to a state audit released Thursday.

In all, $580,758 in overtime compensation was paid, mostly to manager- and executive-level personnel in the Medicaid Management Information System from April 1, 2008, to July 31, 2012, without being sent through required procedural channels, the audit found.

The audit did not name the employees involved. That is a “longstanding practice,” Auditor’s Office spokesman Bill Holmes said. “It will be up to the governor and legislature to make any decisions about reimbursement or discipline.” 

Neither the governor’s office nor the state Department of Health and Human Services would identify the others who collected the improperly paid overtime. Nor would they say whether reimbursement might be sought or disciplinary action taken.

 

But wait, there’s more!

According to Thursday’s audit, “a significant portion of overtime payments were made to manager and executive level positions, not staff level positions.” In all, $510,235, or 87.9 percent, of the overtime was paid to nine manager and executive level positions.

Sligh’s $237,500 was the lion’s share of that, or 40.9 percent of all overtime. Despite the continual delays in bringing the system online, the cost overruns, and a 2012 state audit finding major problems with the MMIS project and intense resistance from DHHS to cooperate, Sligh gave herself an “A” for management of the contract when asked by lawmakers at a legislative hearing to grade herself.

 

It is now up to the media and public to make sure there is accountability. In the private sector, those responsible for this mismanagement would have been promptly escorted out the door.

 

 

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