New Contracting Scandal Erupts with Medicaid Claims Administrator Accenture and the Office of Attorney General

AG child supportreported this morning on a new contracting scandal involving current Medicaid claims administrator Accenture and the Office of Attorney General.

Outrage of use of “emergency leave” for fired staff

You might remember back in May, the OAG was found to be paying several former staff “emergency leave” ie. keeping them on the payroll for several months after they had been fired.

Turns out one staff was fired for reporting that OAG was breaking federal rules

It turns out that one of those staff, a top lawyer with the OAG, according to the DMN, was fired for warning her supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Mara Friesen, that the OAG was breaking federal rules as the agency tried to fix a runaway contract with tech giant Accenture.  The company, which replaced Xerox in 2014 as the state’s primary Medicaid contractor in the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership, was contracted in 2010 to upgrade the OAG’s Child Support Divison’s technology which has been plagued with cost overruns and wonky problems. The deal has already overrun its budget by $100 million with the company apparently seeking even more funds.

Accenture has a poor track record in contracts with Texas.

Terminated so quickly she couldn’t pick up her personal belongings 

Martha Fitzwater Pigott, the staffer involved, was apparently terminated so quickly by Friesen she was “removed from the Austin headquarters before she could gather her personal belongings or turn in her state security badges.” She was later given the “emergency leave” funds by the OAG in exchange for a signed guarantee she wouldn’t sue the agency.

New HHSC Executive Commissioner headed problematic division

The Health and Human Services Commission gets dragged into the picture because Charles Smith, the incoming Executive Commissioner replacing Chris Traylor, managed the Accenture project when he was with OAG.  His LinkedIn profile shows he was Deputy for Child Support / IV-D Director, Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division from October 2013 – June 2015.

He is quoted in the DMN article as saying he knew of no illegalities while he was there.

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