NC health department makes several new high-salary hires

  • Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2013 12:51 a.m.

RALEIGH (AP) — Several administrators in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services are being paid more than the previous person in the job, even as payroll and the average salaries at the agency have declined over the past year.

The agency has also created several new high-salary positions since Gov. Pat McCrory took office, The News & Observer of Raleigh reports.

Joe Cooper was hired to be the agency’s information technology chief. He is making $175,000, about $20,000 more than the information technology chief for all of state government.

Medicaid director Carol Steckel is making $210,000 a year, though the state’s new salary plan caps pay for that job at $136,900. She is making $48,000 more than her predecessor.

The agency hired Rod Davis to be its first chief financial officer at a salary of $169,148, and its budget director, Jim Slate, received a $30,660 raise, to $144,000 this spring.

Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Ricky Diaz said the administrators could make much more in private business and the management of the 16,000-employee agency is being shuffled to resemble a more corporate structure.

“The emphasis is implementing a reorganization of the department of this size to reflect what you’d find in the private sector,” Diaz said.

Diaz’s salary has also come under fire. The 24-year-old who worked for McCrory’s campaign last year is making $85,000.

House Minority Leader Larry Hall wants a legislative committee to meet on Sept. 3 when lawmakers return to consider McCrory’s two vetoes and discuss the pay increases.

“The Republicans just passed a budget that fired thousands of educators and provided no pay raises to teachers or rank-and-file state employees,” Hall, D-Durham, said in a statement. “At the same time, Governor McCrory’s administration is passing out huge pay raises to former campaign staffers with little to no experience in the jobs they’ve been given. The public is outraged, and they should be. The General Assembly has a responsibility to hold a public committee meeting and ask the governor’s administration for a public explanation of hiring processes and their use of taxpayer money.”

The Department of Health and Human Services has suffered problems for years in serving people in psychiatric hospitals and centers for developmentally disabled people. The new higher salaries will be well worth it if the agency is fixed, said Rep Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.

“The greater concern is going to be, can these people produce, can they solve some of the very serious, chronic long-term problems we’ve had with the agency,” Dollar said. “If they can do that, I’m sure they’ll be worth their keep.”


Information from: The News & Observer,

Notice about comments: is pleased to offer readers the ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Full terms and conditions can be read here.

Do not post the following:

  • Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
  • Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
  • Personal attacks, insults or threats.
  • The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
  • Comments unrelated to the story.