@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Audit: Overtime improperly paid to Medicaid managers

Posted February 14, 2013

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services

— A dozen Department of Health and Human Services employees improperly collected $580,758 in overtime over the last five years while working to upgrade a Medicaid billing system, according to a state audit released Thursday.

Angie Sligh, the program director for the Medicaid Management Information System, or MMIS, collected 41 percent of the overtime paid out, according to the audit. Eight other managers collected another 47 percent of the overtime, while three rank-and-file employees collected the remaining 12 percent.

"That is a lot of money, and almost half of it went to one person," State Auditor Beth Wood said. "I would say it's fair to call this abusive, (an) abuse of the system."

DHHS obtained verbal approval from the Office of State Personnel to pay the overtime to "regular staff" who otherwise were prohibited from receiving pay for extra hours worked, according to the audit. The agency bolstered its argument for the overtime by noting that the federal government would pick up the bulk of the costs and that speeding the MMIS implementation would eventually save the state money.

The lack of documentation about the exception to state personnel rules meant no controls were in place to monitor the payments, according to the audit.

"Prohibiting overtime pay for exempt employees provides for better control and management of the state’s and agencies’ budgets. Consequently, it is imperative that any exceptions be thoroughly vetted and justified," the audit states.

DHHS even assigned someone to manually enter the overtime into the state's payroll system because the system could account for the overtime since there was no record of it being approved, according to the audit. There is no way to determine if the times and amounts were entered correctly or the cost of using state personnel to handle the task.

Medicaid overtime audit Second audit scrutinizes NC Medicaid program

The MMIS implementation didn't meet its 2011 deadline – DHHS officials have said it will be online this July – so the employees continued to collect overtime until last month, when new agency officials learned of it and stopped the practice, according to the audit.

"Neither one of (the new personnel officials) knew what was going on. Then, you have DHHS over there doing it, so they're not going to run out and tell anybody," Wood said.

The Office of State Personnel adopted new policies and procedures last fall to ensure exceptions to overtime rules are properly documented.

Wood said the case could result in criminal charges if an investigation determines that the employees were paid for time they didn't actually work.

"This whole process was not managed appropriately," she said.

The audit was the second time in about two weeks that an audit has criticized spending in the Medicaid program. Previously, auditors determined that mismanagement and lax oversight led to high administrative costs in the program.

New DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos said in a statement Thursday that she considers the findings to be serious and has "already taken steps to ensure improved accountability within the department."

Department officials declined to say whether any action has been taken against Sligh or any of the other employees who were paid overtime, saying the audit was about policies and procedures, not individuals.

146 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • superman Feb 15, 7:53 p.m.

    How about not saying she has taken steps to improve accountability. How saying this person is no longer employeed and she cant discuss personnel matters. Dishonest people need to be unemployed. If Wos cant handle the heat--please get out of the kitchen.

  • jackal10782 Feb 15, 5:26 p.m.

    skmedlin79 there is a method to their madness. They make you fill out all the duplicate forms hoping you will make a mistake. Once you make an error they deny all of your benefits, hoping you will just go away. It's been that way for years.

  • skmedlin79 Feb 15, 4:52 p.m.

    Is this not crazy! Part of the "system problem" is in most counties in NC they do everything by hand and want little data entry that is done is not entered into any type of common database where current information could be obtained. Example if you fill out something for food stamps and then apply for Medicaid or Energy Assistance you have re-submit everything over and over even if its the same. In the office I was in today they don't even have one folder for each family where its all filed together. They even make you go back into the waiting room and wait again for the next thing you need, no one is cross trained... I think the system is definitely BROKEN. Think of all the computers and software that could have been bought & new jobs they could have created with what they paid out in Overtime "by accident". Anyways, that's my two cents...

  • ripetomatoes Feb 15, 4:37 p.m.

    Fire them.

  • jackal10782 Feb 15, 4:20 p.m.

    When something wrong has been found regardless of the method action should be taken. I don't think medicaid is over budget because of helping the poor. Medicaid is over budget because the money is spent before any benefits are paid.

  • dadfirst Feb 15, 4:00 p.m.

    HA.... You all missed it. Angie Sligh was given a raise to make sure when the overtime ended she got a higher base. 25% raise. Who kept that lady on the failed projects...at high pay...Lanier Cansler and Dan Stewart.

  • Uhavenoclu Feb 15, 3:57 p.m.

    "It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.
    In an evolving universe, who stands still moves backwards." ~R.A. Wilson

    Take that you politically haters we are all one for If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.
    - Hermann Hesse

  • hollylama Feb 15, 3:34 p.m.

    "Department officials declined to say whether any action has been taken against Sligh or any of the other employees who were paid overtime, saying the audit was about policies and procedures, not individuals."

    Sounds like government speak for not wanting to call out individuals for fear they'll spill ALL the beans.

  • hollylama Feb 15, 3:29 p.m.

    Just as a reminder the Director of the Office of Minority Health was put through the ringer for mismanagement. Double standard?

  • hollylama Feb 15, 3:26 p.m.

    Angie Sligh...don't think the name could get any more ironic than that.

More...