Under the Dome

Lawmakers could end 'revolving door' for state workers

General Assembly lawyers are drafting so-called “revolving door” legislation that would prohibit state workers with responsibility over state contracts from leaving their jobs and immediately going to work for vendors involved in those contracts.

Currently, there’s no “cooling-off period” preventing state workers involved in negotiating or managing contracts from resigning and immediately taking jobs with vendors.

Discussions about a new law warding off potential conflicts of interest stem from a state audit of the troubled Medicaid claims system that found a senior program manager at the state Department of Health and Human Services had gone to work for the vendor working on the system, Computer Sciences Corp.

The program manager, Paul Guthery, left his $126,500-a-year job in August to work for CSC.

The topic came up again Wednesday at a meeting of the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, where State Auditor Beth Wood gave lawmakers an overview of what she views as problems with the state’s oversight of information technology projects. One problem she noted: North Carolina allows managers of information technology projects to work for state government one day and for the vendor the next.

Hal Pell of the General Assembly Research Division said draft legislation should be available soon for review by lawmakers.

The length of the “cooling-off period” would be up to lawmakers, Pell said.

Rep. Marvin Lucas, a Cumberland County Democrat, pointed out that the General Assembly has imposed a six-month cooling-off period for legislators who resign their posts to become lobbyists.

“It seems to me that we need to address some additional care in not allowing folks who are working for us and then going out the door to become vendors,” he said.

State Rep. Julia Howard, a Davie County Republican and chairwoman of the committee, said the draft legislation should be ready for debate and a vote at the committee’s April meeting. The full General Assembly may consider the legislation during this year’s lawmaking session, which begins in May.

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