NC lawmakers review state workers joining vendors

Dec. 20, 2013 @ 11:57 AM

North Carolina legislators are reviewing the practice of state employees leaving government to work for vendors who work for the state.

The possibility of restricting the practice comes after an audit of the Medicaid claims system found that a senior program manager for the state had gone to work for a vendor, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

State Auditor Beth Wood said the example of the employee for the Department of Health and Human Services going to work for a computer company could occur at any state agency.

"This person left DHHS one day and literally went to work for the vendor," Wood said.

The state agency said the situation is not unusual.

"North Carolina has seen many examples of this in years past," the agency said.

The company involved, Computer Sciences Corp., said it complied with both state law and company policy in making the hire.

State legislators and some state employees must wait six months after they leave office or jobs before they can lobby. But there is no waiting period to prevent state workers from immediately going to work for a vendor.

The audit recommends a law addressing state employees who go to work for vendors when the employees are "directly and significantly involved" with the companies as part of their state jobs.

Legislative leaders said they wanted more information on the issue.

"If there's a problem, we need to address it, but I don't want to overreach," said House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Granite Falls.