Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos just doesn’t get it. After taking heat for weeks for hiring campaign cronies with inflated salaries and offering sweetheart deals to old friends, she’s done it again. This time, she’s hired a lobbyist and political hack as the “new brand and marketing manager.” DHHS is apparently the holding tank for the McCrory re-election campaign.
And while the department is acquiring lots of high-paid people with no experience, they are losing qualified people with institutional knowledge and experience running large public programs. The State Health Director resigned in July and the head of Oral Health was fired this month. And we’re getting 24 year old campaign staffers and $300,000 business consultants in their place.
Shake ups are normal when a new administration takes over. However, McCrory has blamed the cost of Medicaid for cuts in other vital programs and cited it as the reason teachers can’t get raises. He says he plans big changes over there. And he’s going to have campaign hacks institute those changes instead of people who have serious backgrounds in management and public health.
But the culture reflects the boss. Aldona Wos doesn’t have any experience either in public health or in running large organizations. She was a campaign fundraiser for George Bush who was paid off with a plum job as ambassador to a former Soviet Republic. When she came back, she and her husband raised money for McCrory. Her reward was running the largest department in state government.
Wos views the world through an ideological and political lens. She talks about freedom more than she talks about her department. She sees the press as the enemy and she values people who share her beliefs more than people with experience and qualifications. It’s a lousy way to run a department.
If McCrory really wants to overhaul the department, he’s got the wrong crew to do it. He needs serious public health professionals and managers with extensive experience running large public programs. Campaign hacks and ideologues aren’t going to get it done. He should cut his losses now and start over.