Connecticut’s state agencies need to stop offering six-figure separation and non-disparagement agreements to former employees without third-party oversight, according to a report to the General Assembly by state auditors John Geragosian and Robert Kane.
“During the course of our audits, we have found large payments made by state agencies to departing state employees,” the report said. “Upon further investigation and discussion with agency personnel, agencies claim that they made these payments (many of which were in excess of $100,000) to avoid costs associated with litigation or as part of non-disparagement agreements.”
This is the second year in a row the state auditors have made this recommendation in their annual report to the General Assembly.
Last year it was revealed that a number of state agencies were paying large settlements to former employees in exchange for them staying quiet about their state service or the cause of their departure.
The University of Connecticut alone made one dozen large payments to former employees, several of which were in excess of $100,000. Other agencies included UConn Health and Connecticut Lottery Corp.
This year Geragosian and Kane singled out Connecticut Lottery for its transition agreement with its former CEO, Anne Noble.
Noble stepped down as CEO of the Connecticut Lottery Corp. following an investigation into a problematic lottery game, which allowed for fraud.
However, Noble was given a “senior advisor” position with the state lottery’s governing board for $25,000 per month as part of her separation agreement. The arrangement allowed Noble to reach her to reach 10 years of employment and enable her to receive a state pension, which will probably be a considerable sum.
“This arrangement cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of unnecessary expenses and is another glaring example of why these arrangements require third-party scrutiny,” the auditors wrote in their report.
These large separation and non-disparagement agreements are in violation of Connecticut state statute, which says only the governor or the attorney general can authorize such a payment, but the payments continue without any third party oversight.
The auditors recommended the state actually adhere to its own laws. “Requiring adherence to these statutory provisions will assist in protecting the state’s interests by providing independent scrutiny of these payments and consistency among state agencies.”
Separation and non-disparagement payments are meant to avoid litigation and prevent the former employee from going public with their experiences. The auditors expressed concern that such agreements undermine employees’ whistleblower rights.