Under the Dome

McCrory claim on DHHS audit problem not supported by the record

Gov. Pat McCrory faced some tough questions during a radio interview on 106.1 FM that aired Friday morning, including about last week’s audit of a former state manager’s hiring practices.

McCrory’s answers sought to deflect blame away from his administration.

The audit had found that a retired state Department of Health and Human Services manager, Angie Sligh, hired friends, relatives and acquaintances, including her daughter, her ex-husband and his wife, and several people from her church. Sligh retired earlier this year, and had been the subject of other critical audit work.

The audit found that some of those people were not qualified for their jobs, and some were making more than their job duties called for. In all, the audit estimated more than $1.6 million was wasted in salaries, overtime and perks.

The waste occurred from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2014, according to the audit.

McCrory took office in early 2013.

The audit faulted state Department of Health and Human Services administration for lax supervision, saying superiors could have done more to monitor Sligh’s activities, particularly since she’d been the subject of two earlier audits.

In a written response to the audit, DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos agreed with some of the findings, but said that the waste was far less than $1.6 million. The agency response said that Sligh did not engage in nepotism, as the audit said, because she did not have relatives directly working for her.

The state auditor’s report said auditors launched their investigation after receiving allegations through the office’s hotline.

But McCrory’s first response to questions on the radio program about the problem was to say: “Dr. Wos was the one who helped identify it.”

McCrory’s claim differs from the accounting contained in DHHS’s official response. DHHS said it did its own investigation, but that it began after state auditors came in.

On the issue of several temporary workers making more than their job duties called for, DHHS wrote that it found through its own investigation that most of the people fitting that description no longer worked there, but one person identified had been fired.

“DHHS appreciates your office bringing this matter to its attention so that appropriate action could be taken,” Wos said in a letter to State Auditor Beth Wood.

In an audit finding on comp time, Wos wrote, “Your investigation revealed to us an error in the reporting by DHHS of the compensatory time of one of its employees.”