The embattled Oklahoma State Department of Health is coming under fire again for the salary it’s offering the agency’s interim director, even though the interim director admits he’s not qualified.
The agency misspent $30 million, forcing the layoffs of almost 200 people. But the board of health is offering the interim director more than $50,000 more than it must.
The State Board of Health agreed to pay Interim Director Preston Doerflinger $189,000 a year. State statute requires the agency to pay him at least $136,000. Statute also requires that the director possess at least one of these qualifications:
1. Possession of a Doctor of Medicine Degree and a license to practice medicine in this state;
2. Possession of an Osteopathic Medicine Degree and a license to practice medicine in this state;
3. Possession of a Doctoral degree in Public Health or Public Health Administration; or
4. Possession of a Master of Science Degree and a minimum of five (5) years of supervisory experience in the administration of health services.
Doerflinger doesn’t meet any of those qualifications.
"It was under the advice of council, specifically the state's attorney, the attorney general who said that I could come in an interim basis,” said Doerflinger.
But there’s no real plan for the board of health to find a permanent director.
"I think right now they are wanting to just move forward with the interim situation.” Doerflinger said, “I'd look for them as they see what type of laws might be introduced in regular session to then determine how they might approach their search for a permanent director."
Doerflinger was placed in the position leaving his position as director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, and getting an $18,000 raise to do it.
Representative Bobby Cleveland (R) Norman isn’t mincing words.
"We're talking about laying people off then we're talking about giving the guy a $20,000 raise? To an agency that was broke before we gave them $30 million, they said they were going to have to shut down if we didn’t give them that $30 million."
Cleveland said, as director of OMES, Doerflinger should have seen that the department of health had been misspending millions of dollars for years.
"Why should you give him a bonus for doing something that he should have done before?" Cleveland asked. "This is wrong to have...to give him a raise. I don't know what's happening to this board of directors. I think the state of Oklahoma's just lost its mind."