The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s chief financial officer, Mike Romero, has left the agency. In his resignation letter, Romero wrote that the “process for the financial recovery for the OSDH is currently tainted with multiple conflicts of interest.”
Romero testified Jan. 12 before the House Special Investigation Committee that has been looking into financial mismanagement at the Health Department.
OSDH attorneys filed suit a week earlier to argue that the timeline for document provisions requested by the House committee was insufficient.
Less than a month later, Romero is out, leaving the agency ahead of his one-year employment anniversary in April.
Acting Commissioner of Health Preston Doerflinger declined to comment on Romero’s exit or the letter below addressed to him, the OSDH Board and agency employees.
The full letter follows:
February 1, 2018
To: OSDH Interim Commissioner and Secretary of Finance Doerflinger
OSDH Board of Health
OSDH Employees and Staff
From: Michael Romero, CFO
Effective immediately, I hereby resign from the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
Although this is not an easy decision, I believe that I can no longer effectively perform the requirements of the job because the leadership of the agency is compromised as to areas of great financial concern to the State of Oklahoma as well as the Federal Government.
Yesterday, I provided a response Memo to the Interim Commissioner regarding various issues which affect the agency. This document included matters related to OSDH information technology expenditures which I believe are very serious concerns on multiple levels — especially in instituting the corrections required as expressed in the OSDH Corrective Action Report to the Legislature. This document was also provided to the State Auditor and Inspector and the House Investigative Committee.
After delivery of this memo in a one on one meeting, the Interim Commissioner revealed to me that the items in that memo did not coincide with the previous “testimony” of an OSDH employee. This employee had appeared before a formal investigative process currently underway by the State Attorney General and Federal Officials. The employee was under the clear indication from OSDH General Counsel that she was acting as the employee’s attorney in the matter and nonetheless, after the submission of my memo to the Interim Commissioner, he was apparently capable of fact checking my points with those made by the employee in that investigative meeting. Essentially, these actions show me that the Interim Commissioner is using others, including his General Counsel, to stay abreast of the proceedings and to analyze the financial communications provided by me with this compromising activity. These matters should be kept confidential by the General Counsel and yet this General Counsel has been present throughout the Grand Jury process.
Therefore, I believe that the process for the financial recovery for the OSDH is currently tainted with multiple conflicts of interest. Many of which impede the steps required for me to fully assist the agency as the CFO. Numerous important and on-going issues have already been highlighted by the former Chief Operating Officer, Deborah Nichols—especially those related to OSDH information technology expenditures. Ms. Nichols is a COO par excellence and one of the finest executive professionals I have ever been privileged to work with and the agency has suffered without her direction.
Finally, I wish to thank all of the wonderful people that work for the OSDH and deliver such an important mission to the citizens of the State of Oklahoma. They are the true heroes that work tirelessly to perform very difficult jobs and I sincerely give them my thanks. To all of the finance personnel; you are astounding people with skill and ability that match any of the finest professionals that I have ever worked with—may God bless you.
In the best interests of the public in obtaining important information, I have made this most difficult decision.