Oct 3rd 2014 | Posted in News, Public Safety, State by Texas Government Insider

A veteran of nearly two decades of employment with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has been fired over allegedly sharing information with a vendor regarding negotiations over a multi-million-dollar data contract with the state.

Leah Rayne, business technology architect for HHSC for the last two years, was terminated from her position on Sept. 25 after she admitted discussing with a vendor details of a confidential contracting meeting regarding a major data project that was being bid.

HHSC has strict confidentiality and ethics polices in place regarding sensitive information. Rayne’s alleged violations of those policies led to her termination.

“It’s important that taxpayers and companies understand we’re committed to a procurement process that is fair for all parties,” said HHSC Spokesperson Stephanie Goodman of the termination. “That means we’ve got to ensure a level playing field and that there’s integrity in the process. Our actions in this case are a reflection of that commitment.”

The firing came after HHSC officials announced last week that they would re-issue the request for proposals (RFP) for the data project. At the time, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Director  Kyle Janek indicated there were concerns that a state employee “inappropriately provided information” to one of the vendors that bid on the project. Janek indicated that non-disclosure forms are signed by agency employees to prevent the release of information regarding procurements, and offering information to a vendor violates that agreement.

Although the original bids were reviewed and negotiations had begun with the vendor that offered the best bid, no agreement had been reached. Janek said the agency was “committed to getting it right” and thus on Sept. 5 announced it was canceling the original RFP and issuing another RFP. The agency did not blame the leak of information by the former HHSC employee as the sole reason for the rebid. Janek said other considerations for rebidding the project were the fact that the bids came in higher than expected and efforts to reduce the costs would have resulted in a change in the scope of work, which would necessitate a rebid.

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