Enough with the parting gifts

July 21, 2017

Inside Insight, Uncategorized

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Consulting jobs for ex-agency heads are costly and unnecessary

By ABBY NUGENT

According to a contract obtained by the Post and Courier, the former head of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Catherine Templeton, accepted a contract with the agency just one day after she left her position in January of 2015. As director, she was paid $13,500 a month. After signing her no-bid consulting contract, she was paid $17,300 a month—a 28 percent increase.

Templeton’s predecessor, Earl Hunter, did the same sort of consulting at a rate of $15,000 per month for three months after he left DHEC, and current director Catherine Heigel (set to leave her position on August 4), was offered the same position, but announced yesterday to The State that she will not accept it amid this controversy.

One might think that, after agency heads leave their positions as government employees, their days of receiving taxpayer-funded salaries are over. This has not been the case. And it raises the question, why was the consultant paid more than the agency head, even after having received a pay raise of thousands of dollars shortly before leaving her post at DHEC?

DHEC Deputy Director Barbara Derrick says no one but the former director had the current knowledge of the agency that the consulting required. Templeton says that with expenses such as taxes, the rate of pay for the consulting work ends up being the same as her agency-head salary.

Still, is this pricey consulting really necessary to facilitate the transition from director to director? That Heigel turned down the contract suggests it isn’t. According to The State, DHEC regulator David Wilson plans on handling her responsibilities until a new director is chosen. If her consultation services were absolutely necessary, he wouldn’t be able to do that.

A consultant is also less accountable than an agency head, who has clear duties, yet taxpayers foot the same bill for the job, which seems like a parting gift. Heigel says this has been the “normal way to do it.” Maybe it’s time for that to change.

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  • Littlebigpaw

    “Not necessary” that’s a matter of opinion and everyone has one!

  • M326

    I was the agency head for two state agencies under two different governors, one a Republican, the other a Democrat. Neither I nor any other agency head that I know was ever offered contracts after leaving the position. DHEC is the only agency I know that does this and they have only done it over the past 6 years. Sounds very suspicious to me. The deputy directors collectively know enough to run the agency–at least for a while.

  • Dirty Water

    “According to The State, DHEC regulator David Wilson plans on handling her responsibilities until a new director is chosen. If her consultation services were absolutely necessary, he wouldn’t be able to do that.”

    He won’t be able to do that. He has no talents in this regard. He is merely a high-up with little to do until the legislature reconvenes in 2018. Others with far more talent are busy. He was second choice. First choice turned it down.

  • ELCID

    This is all related to Gov. Trick Nicky Haley’s sell out of the Charleston Ports.

    Haley took direct bribes from the Georgia Ports, thru her PAC. Then blocked DHEC from stopping Ga. Ports from dumping contaminate waste into SC during their port deepening dredge operations.

    Haley fired all the objecting DHEC officers, and put her Paid Puppets into their jobs. With zero experience, and massive bribe money to keep quiet.

    Haley is by far the crooked governor in SC history since: “Pitch Fork,” Ben Tillman. And that covers a lot of crooks.

  • Philip Branton

    This is called “political leverage”. It is the legal department at DHEC that needs a good clearing out. Man or woman, it doesn’t matter. The scene from Erin Brockovich comes to mind.
    https://youtu.be/BGX4nMrnxg0

    Map out that legal department and tie that back to Quinndom and every dump across our state. Heck, check the ties to the legal spirit with regards to the North East haul coming into the Horry County Landfill alone….

  • Bill Brasky

    If Templeton left nobody at the agency that she had adequately trained to be able to run said agency for a couple of months while a replacement was sought then that is an absolute failure to lead on her part.

    If her executive management team was not well trained enough to help the new director get up to speed, then, once again, a failure of Templeton to lead. Considering her entire team all collected 6 figure salaries sad indeed.