A man who works for the husband of North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos landed a very well paid government contract.
Wos' agency finally released the contract for advisor Joe Hauck on Friday. Since he was hired in January, Hauck has made more than $228,000 in 8 months, making him one of the highest paid contracted employees.
Hauck is the vice president of sales and marketing for New Breed Logistics, a High Point company for which Wos' husband Louis DeJoy is the chief executive officer. The company says Hauck is currently on leave.
Friday afternoon, Wos defended her decisions in a statement.
"The operational, IT and financial challenges at the Department of Health and Human Services are among the greatest in state government, as documented by the State Auditor," Wos said. "To confront these challenges head on, I have assembled a strong leadership team and brought in experts who we knew could deliver immediate results. We continue to look for diverse talent to turn around the Department."
But ProgressNC and a handful of law makers are questioning that process.
"This is the good 'ol boy system defined," said Gerrick Brenner with ProgressNC, "it's alarming that someone is getting a no-bid contract working for the husband of the DHHS secretary."
"We're talking about contracting what had traditionally, from my understanding, been duties performed by state employees, and now contracting them out at a significantly higher rate," said Democratic House Leader, Rep. Larry Hall.
He is calling for a legislative investigation into DHHS.
DHHS says they followed all state policies hiring Hauck. They say he was hired as a personal service contract, which is not subject to being placed out for bid. The agency says it's a time-limited job designed to get immediate results. Hauck is helping oversee and re-structure operations and finances across the department. The agency says he has helped them save millions and is helping rebuild the department, which is facing major internal challenges.
The department says when Wos arrived, she was confronted with a number of vacancies and retirements in critical senior leadership positions. They say Hauck was part of team hired to fix these voids.
Hauck did not respond to messages left for him this week with his assistant at New Breed, which specializes in supply chain management. HIs assistant told WNCN to contact DHHS.
Wos' leadership of the state's largest departmental agency has been under scrutiny for months. A former ambassador to Estonia under President George W. Bush and campaign fundraiser for Gov. Pat McCrory, Wos has used her government position to surround herself with Republican Party operatives.
Also, Wos was under fire after two employees, recent college graduates, were promoted to senior positions. Ricky Diaz, a 24-year-old former campaign spokesman for McCrory is paid $85,000 a year to manage the agency's message and oversee compliance with the state's public records law. Wos' chief adviser for policy issues is another 24-year-old, former McCrory campaign staffer Matthew McKillip. He is paid $87,500.
Hauck's contract has been extended at least four times and money allocated to his contract has been increased at least 3 times. His contract is now scheduled to expire November 30th.