Misconduct in hiring alleged at D.C. health finance agency
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
A former human resources specialist for the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance is alleging that agency leaders forced her to falsify and embellish internal documents to make it easier for officials to hire certain employees over better qualified applicants.
Candice Young, who worked as a human resources adviser for the agency from June 2008 until January, said she was forced to alter dozens of documents so that Director Julie Hudman could legally place friends and allies in top-level jobs within the agency.
"I had to lie," said Young, who resigned in January. "They said, 'I want this person,' and I would have to go change things, but eventually I said, 'I am not going to do this anymore.' "
Hudman, who took over the agency in October 2008 after working as an adviser to then-City Administrator Dan Tangherlini, countered in an e-mailed statement that Young's "allegations are untrue and without merit."
"Miss Young's claims were investigated by the District's Department of Human Resources Compliance and Investigations Unit and they did not substantiate any of these claims," Hudman said in the e-mail. "Although we cannot comment further on personnel matters, we will continue to comply with any additional investigations."
The allegations emerged as part of D.C. Council member Marion Barry's investigation into hiring practices at the agency, which was created in 2008 to oversee Medicaid and other government-sponsored health insurance programs. Barry (D-Ward 8), who sits on the Health Committee, is upset that, according to records obtained by him, only four of the top 20 jobs in the newly created agency are held by African Americans.
"This kind of philosophy, this kind of racial discrimination should not exist in the D.C. government," Barry said Tuesday. "This is not 1960."
Young, who is white, said she resigned in January because of repeated attempts by Hudman and Genee Unger, who had been the agency's chief operating officer, to have her alter the forms. Hudman is also white.
Unger, a former aide to council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), declined to comment. But Phillip A. Lattimore III, general counsel for the D.C. Department of Human Resources, which had final authority over the hires, said in a statement that his agency "is satisfied that all new hires were made in accordance with current personnel regulations."
"It is not DCHR's practice to recommend the altering of any official document," Lattimore said.
According to personnel regulations, the management-level positions within the government are to be filled through "open competition on the basis of merit by selection from the highest qualified applicants, based on specific job requirements with appropriate regard for affirmative action goals."
Young said she was responsible for processing job applications by creating the "rating and ranking" forms that the agency used to determine the most qualified candidates for jobs.