DHHS secretary's email to lawmakers
Posted September 6, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — DHHS Sec. Aldona Wos sent the following email to lawmakers on Sept. 6, 2013.
From: Wos, Aldona
Sent: Friday, September 06, 2013 3:22 PM
Subject: Contracts at the Department of Health and Human Services
Senators and Representatives:
In light of recent media reports, I wanted to provide you with accurate information about contracts at the Department of Health and Human Services. Above all, these contracts are an integral part of our effort to deliver more efficient, effective services to North Carolinians and results to the taxpayers of North Carolina.
As you are no doubt aware, there were incredible deficiencies at the Department when we arrived in January. Many critical leadership positions were vacant and key individuals were within days of retirement. More alarming was that the Department had neither a plan of succession for many top-level, leadership and oversight responsibilities nor a plan to hire, retain and develop leaders to fill these critical positions. This, in a Department that:
- had no one person in charge of finances, with an $18 billion budget;
- contained a Medicaid division that had exceeded its budget by $1.4 billion over the previous 3 years;
- allowed some of the largest IT projects in state history to go woefully over budget and fall behind schedule and did not have in place a Chief Information Officer responsible for their successful launch; and
- failed to have a means of communicating with all 18,000 employees, as thousands of employees didn’t even have email accounts.
I immediately began assembling a strong leadership team and to bring in experts on contract who are working to fix these deficiencies with a sense of urgency. These experts immediately began analyzing the Department’s organizational structure, financial modeling, and operational efforts with an eye toward pinpointing failures and implementing solutions. Critical to this effort was Joe Hauck.
Joe is an accomplished leader with 35 years of executive management experience across the entire spectrum of business operations and communications disciplines. He provides solid business insight with an ability to ascertain and analyze organizational requirements, forecast goals, streamline operations, and execute new program concepts. Upon arriving at the Department, he immediately conducted an evaluation of the operations of the Department to identify key weaknesses in the existing structure. Additionally, he assisted me in restructuring and recruiting an executive team that will bring long-term efficiency and results to the Department.
Joe also undertook an in-depth examination of financial issues that have historically plagued the Department and has begun implementing corrective actions, already achieving millions in savings without compromising services. He continues to be a strong project manager and assist me with management restructuring efforts. Among his many accomplishments, he:
- Created a plan to reduce the funds expended on temporary agency workers in our psychiatric facilities by recruiting and retaining more state-employee health care professionals at competitive salaries, which will reduce vacancies in our facilities while improving the care we provide to our most vulnerable patients and is additionally estimated to save the state in excess of $1.25 million annually;
- Developed a plan to achieve $5 million in savings in payments to non-profits supported by the Department, without reducing services; and
- Expanded the Office of Internal Audit, allowing the Department to increase and improve its oversight and accountability to reduce waste and responsibly manage the hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts it oversees.
You no doubt recognize several of these efforts, as you gave us approval to execute these plans in your recent budget.
Finally, as I am sure you all have noticed, since taking office, we have placed a renewed emphasis on restoring your trust in the Department. The Department complied with previously-existing policies and procedures in executing these contracts, and as a result of them, all North Carolinians will have a better functioning and more efficient Department of Health and Human Services.
If you would like to discuss any of this information or our initiatives at greater length, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I look forward to continuing to work together to pursue reforms and initiatives that better the Department and the health of all North Carolinians.
Aldona Z. Wos, M.D.
N.C. Department of Health & Human Services