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Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission ratifies firing of six employees

The Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission voted Thursday to ratify the firing of six employees as it took a number of actions designed to fix problems created by previous Open Meeting Act violations.
by Randy Ellis Modified: August 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm •  Published: August 22, 2014

Ratify the Feb. 1 hiring of eight employees.

Grant the commission chairman the responsibility of hiring, firing and fixing the salaries of all commission employees except the executive director, administrative law judges, attorneys/law clerks and the medical director.

Grant the chairman the power to enter into all leases and contracts involving expenditures of $50,000 or less.

Give the chairman the authority to assign tasks and set deadlines.

Grant the chairman the power to develop an organizational structure and determine staff hierarchies.

Commissioners also voted to delay installation of an electronic data interchange system until at least next fiscal year and use money designated for that purpose to hire employees to process workers’ compensation filings. State law required that the system was to be implemented by July 1, 2014, a deadline that was missed more than a month ago.

“We are in no way trying to tell the Legislature that we are usurping their authority in that they have directed us to establish an electronic data interface program here,” Engle said. “It is simply a lack of funding that we are unable at this time to follow through with that.”

Wilson said the project also has been delayed because the commission had to start over with the bidding process for selecting a contractor. That move was necessary because of questions about whether the state Open Meeting Act was violated when commissioners met with a potential contractor behind closed doors.

“We are definitely behind the eight ball in trying to get the paperwork done,” Wilson said.

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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