OKLAHOMA CITY — The former chief financial officer of the Oklahoma State Department of Health alleges another state agency knew of and tried to hide the Health Department’s multimillion dollar budget woes.

Mike Romero’s allegations have raised questions about whether the Office of Management and Enterprise Services knew about the department’s financial issues, The Oklahoman reported.

Romero resigned on Thursday, saying in his resignation letter that the department’s leadership was “compromised,” and that the department’s recovery was “tainted with multiple conflicts of interest.”

Romero also accused Preston Doerflinger, the interim health commissioner, who previously oversaw OMES, of inappropriately monitoring employees’ statements to state and federal investigators.

The department has dismissed Romero’s allegations, saying they’re baseless and part of a bizarre change in behavior after officials raised issues with his job performance. The department also said that Romero allegedly only began to complain after problems with delayed payments to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission under his leadership came to light.

“OSDH leadership is continuing to work as quickly as possible to rectify the financial mismanagement of the agency,” the department said in a statement. “We will maintain our course of transparency and fiscal efficiency as we continue our task of righting and right-sizing the agency.”

The department’s financial trouble was exposed in October, when officials said they wouldn’t be able to make payroll without a cash infusion. Lawmakers appropriated $30 million to the department and launched an inquiry into the finances.

The department also is planning to lay off more than 150 employees next month because of its budget. Recent data obtained by the newspaper show that 43 registered nurses are scheduled to lose their jobs at local health departments. Twenty-eight patient care assistants, 16 licensed practical nurses and 50 office workers are also expected to be laid off, according to the data.


Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com