Gov. Rick Perry on Friday fired Doug Wilson, inspector general of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, following the removal of Wilson’s former deputy after questions arose over the selection of a relatively unknown company for a $110 million Medicaid fraud software contract.
Perry asked for Wilson’s resignation and received it, according to Lucy Nashed, the governor’s spokeswoman.
“Ongoing questions regarding the awarding of contracts at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission have caused the governor to lose confidence in Wilson’s ability to carry out the important oversight responsibilities of this office,” Nashed said in a statement.
The action came one day after a series of explosive moves. On Thursday, state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, asked the state’s public integrity unit to investigate how 21 Century Technologies Inc. came to receive the $110 million contract. HHSC Commissioner Kyle Janek asked the state auditor’s office to review the inspector general office’s contracting procedures, including how 21CT received the first piece of that contract – $20 million – without going through a competitive HHSC bidding process.
Also on Thursday, Wilson’s former deputy, Jack Stick, who was promoted to HHSC’s chief legal counsel last March, was taken off the agency payroll. Stick had resigned a week ago, but was permitted to stay on to finish projects.
After the governor’s announcement, Janek announced that HHSC would suspend purchases from the Texas Department of Information Services, or DIR, catalog until the review of contracting practices is completed.
“Agencies are required by state law to buy off the DIR contract when possible, and we want to ensure we have high standards in place for the development and review of those contracts,” Janek said. “I hope to have new policies in place soon for those contracts.”
Janek also announced he was placing two HHSC employees and one Department of Family and Protective Services staffer on paid administrative leave to guard against any conflict of interest during the state auditor’s review.
Those two employees were Janek’s own chief of staff Erica Stick, wife of Jack Stick, and Cody Cazares, Jack Stick’s former chief of staff.
Wilson’s wife Frianita Wilson, who works in purchasing at the Department of Family and Protective Services, was also placed on indefinite leave.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/12/19/perry-fires-hhsc-inspector-general/.