The Republican co-chairmen of the General Assembly's Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services sent a letter this week to the secretary of the Department of Administration asking for more information about plans to consolidate DHHS workers onto a single campus.
Rep. Nelson Dollar, Rep. Justin Burr and Sen. Louis Pate have asked Sec. Moses Carey, Jr. to provide answers to six questions by Monday at 5 p.m. The questions cover a range of issues, including whether DOA's cost-effectiveness analysis of the project took into account various DHHS lease payments.
The legislators note that an earlier facilities master plan that was completed in 2007 recommended that DHHS be consolidated on the Dorothea Dix campus.
"What is DOA's rationale for acting contrary to the plan's recommendations?" the letter asks.
The legislators also ask whether the funding from operations and maintenance from the Dorothea Dix campus will be enough to cover any lease payment for the first phase of the move to a new campus. The roughly 1,400 DHHS employees on the Dix campus are to be the first employees to move to a new campus in 2014.
"This issue is critical to substantiate the claim that the consolidation will not require additional appropriations and will not derail the state's cash flow," the letter states.
DOA posted a request for proposals for consolidating DHHS in a single location in July. The agency is seeking as much as 1 million square feet for the campus, which eventually would replace the 30 state-owned and -leased facilities that the agency now has in Wake County. DHHS will need 600,000 to 650,000 square feet no later than June 2014, and more space in 2017 and 2019.
Gov. Perdue said at the time the RFP was announced that the project would reduce DHHS operational costs and address leases that were about to expire. Relocating DHHS employees would also allow the plan to turn Dix into a park to move forward, she said.
Nelson Dollar didn't immediately return a call seeking comment on Friday. Jill Lucas, a spokeswoman for DOA, said Carey will respond to the committee's questions as requested.
The letter may have been prompted by comments made earlier this week by Tony Beasley, Garner's economic development director.
Beasley said that the DOA had narrowed its list of potential sites for the campus to four sites. Beasley also said that, according to meetings he attended and updates he received from developers who submitted proposals, that state officials could select a developer for the project as early as next week and could take it before the Council of State for approval on Nov. 13.
DOA has disputed Beasley's account, and sent a letter to all the developers who submitted proposals saying none of them have been eliminated.
In their letter to Carey, Dollar, Burr and Pate said DOA and DHHS officials agreed in August that they would report to the General Assembly prior to seeking Council of State approval of a consolidated DHHS lease.
"The viability of the proposed consolidation is in the details, so there are a number of areas that we want to ensure are properly considered in your analysis," their letter states. "We want to make certain that any consolidation plan for DHHS is in the best interest of the state and of the taxpayers."