RALEIGH: Well-connected NC consultant produced few records - WRBL

Well-connected NC consultant produced few records

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A government contractor credited with saving North Carolina taxpayers millions left behind little documentary evidence of that work.
    
Joe Hauck was paid $310,000 in less than 11 months as a consultant to state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos before returning in December to his job as an executive at a private company run by Wos' husband.
    
In response to public records requests filed in September by The Associated Press seeking all plans, proposals, documents, e-mails and any other work product authored by Hauck, the state agency has handed over a pair of memos totaling little more than three double-spaced pages.
    
The agency also provided spreadsheets detailing cuts made in state funding to such nonprofit charities as food banks and pre-Kindergarten programs that were reportedly developed at Hauck's direction.
    
The agency handed over no emails Hauck exchanged with state employees, which are supposed to be public records.
    
"Working in close collaboration with the secretary, Joe Hauck was involved in many strategic decisions and he led many reform efforts within DHHS," said Kevin Howell, Wos' spokesman. "All of the documents provided are the direct result of Joe Hauck's leadership, and they demonstrate his extensive market and best practice research, review of policies, contracts and historical data, and collaboration with subject matter experts within DHHS."
    
Hauck did not respond to a message seeking comment about his work at the state agency.
    
Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democratic lawmaker, has been highly critical of the lucrative contracts awarded to Hauck and others under Wos' leadership. He expressed dismay the agency couldn't come up with more documentation of his work.
    
"I'm sorely disappointed there is so little work product based upon the state spending over $300,000 for his services," said McKissick, who is from Durham. "One would logically assume there would be a mountain of paperwork he would have been involved with over an 11 month period."
    
Hauck was hired on Jan. 22, 2013 by Wos, a Greensboro physician and wealthy Republican political donor. He took a leave of absence as the vice president of sales and marketing at New Breed Logistics, a High Point company where Wos' husband, Louis DeJoy, is the chief executive officer.
    
Like Wos and her husband, records show Hauck and his wife were strong political supporters of Gov. Pat McCrory, donating $14,750 to his campaign.
    
Hauck's consulting contract at the state health agency paid him an hourly rate of $125.
    
To earn the $310,000 he was paid through Nov. 30, Hauck would have had to average 54 hours of work every week, taking no vacation or sick leave, for 46 straight weeks. Hauck worked the final three weeks prior to his Dec. 20 departure for $1, according to the agency.
    
All told, Hauck was paid $41,000 more than the annual salary of the department's highest paid state employee, who is a medical doctor.
    
Ironically, one of the primary money-saving measures Hauck is credited with during his time at DHHS is a proposal to curtail the agency's reliance on highly paid temporary contractors and costly overtime by hiring more full-time state employees and reducing high turnover.
    
The unsigned briefing memos from May credited to Hauck summarize a 2012 study by agency staff of spending on contract workers. Hauck made the same recommendations as the earlier study - give substantial raises to the agency's most highly qualified and hard-to-replace employees, such as doctors, nurses and dentists.
    
According to the agency, Hauck's recycled recommendations will save taxpayers $1.25 million annually. It is not clear from the documents provided how that number was calculated.
    
Hauck is also credited with developing a plan to implement $5 million in cuts to state support for nonprofit groups. Those cuts had been mandated by legislators the prior year.
    
Howell said Hauck was instrumental in expanding the agency's internal audit staff and was a "major participant" in formulating consolidation efforts projected to save taxpayers $1.8 million over the next four years.
    
Again, the agency did not provide a detailed accounting of how those projected savings were estimated.
    
Howell said the $310,000 taxpayers paid Hauck was money well spent.
    
"If we had a Joe Hauck in every department, we would be in much better shape as a state," Howell said.
 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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