In case anyone missed it, Charles Smith, the Executive Commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services retired at the end of May.
The continuing saga of poor contracting practices at the state agency enraged legislators and Gov. Abbott. As the Texas Tribune reported:
“In recent weeks and months, the commission has endured scandal over how multi-million dollar contracts are managed. State auditors, legislators and Abbott have criticized Smith’s agency over how it continues to muck up contracts even after years of work to make the onboarding and management process more efficient. Last month was particularly bad for the commission after Abbott wrote a scathing letter to Smith over contracting failures related to the Children’s Health Insurance Program in rural communities. The letter and other contracting issues highlighted by state auditors led five employees — including two top state officials overseeing contracting and procurement — to depart the agency.”
Smith, unfortunately, follows in the wake of Kyle Janek who left under similar circumstances back in 2015. Chris Traylor who succeeded Janek before Smith obviously knew what he was doing in retiring early from the executive commissioner position.
Smith’s tenure wasn’t all bad and Gov. Abbott thanked Smith for his service saying “throughout his tenure, Charles has taken a hands-on approach to solving tough issues while displaying a tireless work ethic.”
Former State Sen. Tommy Williams was to temporarily lead the agency on an interim basis but Cecile Young is now in charge. Young with more than 30 years of state service served as the clerk for the conference committee that created the Health and Human Services Commission and worked at the agency from 2007 to 2011, then returned in 2015 to serve as chief of staff according to a release from HHS. Gov. Abbott appointed her chief deputy executive commissioner in June 2015.
Sen. Williams will be working with her to deal with the procurement issues.