Feds launch investigation into DHHS contracts, hiring

Posted September 25, 2015

— The U.S. Attorney's Office has launched an investigation into high-dollar consulting contracts and salary payments at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

According to documents provided by DHHS on Friday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker subpoenaed the department for information on more than 30 employees, as well as bidding and payment information for administrative contracts, as part of a criminal investigation. The subpoenas came in late July, about a week before the resignation of former DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos in early August.

The investigation was first reported by The News & Observer.

DHHS spokeswoman Kendra Gerlach said Wos decided to resign before the subpoenas.

"The current secretary had been selected prior to any knowledge of this government inquiry," Gerlach said.

Walker's office did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Gerlach said the department is cooperating with the federal government, but she declined to comment further about the investigation.

"We will continue to respect the confidentiality of the process by the federal government to protect the integrity and fairness of this review," she said in an emailed statement.

The Governor's Office has not responded to requests for comment.

Among the targets of the subpoena are the records of state employees and contractors who have come under fire in the past, both by North Carolina legislators and the State Auditor's Office.

That includes:

State lawmakers have grilled DHHS leadership in the past in response to the contracts and audits, often publicly in legislative oversight meetings.

Rep. Justin Burr, co-chairman of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on DHHS, said Friday that he was recently made aware of the federal investigation into DHHS.

"It’s a concern, but it covers several areas that our oversight committee has expressed concerns about," Burr, R-Stanly, said.

Oversight hearings during Wos’ tenure questioned the qualifications of contractors hired by DHHS, as well as the size of those contracts.

"Depending on which one you’re talking about, there was no sort of bid or effort to find the most qualified person," Burr said. "They were just hand-picking individuals."

Read the subpoenas


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  • Robert Smith Sep 28, 2015
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    Why is Gov. McCory not answering to the media. Is this just another case where he is to embarrassed to respond because of his poor choices. I hope the Feds get to the bottom of this and expose the corruption in McCory's choices and include him in being prosecuted.

  • Terry Lightfoot Sep 26, 2015
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    the chickens are coming home to roost!

  • Ed McKim Sep 26, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    there's more coming down the line from Tony Tata, but most of it involves his army career not his DOT or Superintendent positions, as far as I can tell

  • Paul Maxwell Sep 26, 2015
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    Is anyone surprised?

  • Randy Riddle Sep 25, 2015
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    Since Wos resigned just after subpoenas came down about DHHS, this makes me curious about Tata's sudden departure from NCDOT.

  • Ron Coleman Sep 25, 2015
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    While they are at it they should investigate Corrections Enterprises. Now you want to talk about an agency that hires unqualified people.

  • Melissa Noderer Sep 25, 2015
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    Ah-Ha!! Dr Vos got outta Dodge when she found out the Sherriff (Feds) was coming to town.

  • Megan Waldron Sep 25, 2015
    user avatar

    Same needs to be done with the NCDOT.

  • Barbara Sossomon Sep 25, 2015
    user avatar

    I hope that they will do a complete timeline of all of this. Many of these applications are probably years in the making.