State employees can work on New Year's Eve, according to a press release just in from the Governor's office;

the Dec. 31 furlough day will be shifted to Friday, March 5

, 2010. The furloughs, which apply to 17,000 state employees, "will save another $8.1 million – on top of the $8.3 million that will be saved by the elimination of several state exempt positions," the release states.

The 4,100 employees

exempt from furloughs

include direct patient care in hospitals and health facilities—and while I'm not saying hospitals work better without receptionists, another exciting chapter of the DOH hiring-during-hiring-freeze story has unfolded.

Last week,

sent to Gary Chabot, an analyst with the Legislative Finance Committee,

alleging practices of nepotism and the moving of DOH funds "in a questionable manner."

Today, Chabot sent along DOH Secretary Alfredo Vigil's response, sent to Vigil on Wednesday, Nov 25—one day after Chabot alerted Vigil to the complaint. (The e-mail's after the jump.)

From: Vigil, Alfredo, DOH [mailto:Alfredo.Vigil@state.nm.us]


Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 9:06 AM


To: Chabot, Gary


Subject: RE: Legislative Member Inquiry





Dear Mr. Chabot:





Thank you for your recent email dated November 24, 2009, regarding the Legislative Member Inquiry, as I am sure you are aware, all hiring is conducted pursuant to Personnel Act NMSA, Section 10-9-2 and State Personnel Board Rule 1.7.5 NMSA.  While I appreciate your concern, I can assure you that the Department of Health follows SPB rules and regulations. That being said, the individuals mentioned are employed by the Department and were hired under the same guidelines and rules as other employees of the Department.





Regarding the matter of fund management, the concerns were thoroughly investigated both internally and by qualified external parties and no negative findings were identified.





Respectfully,





Alfredo Vigil, MD

If only all investigations could be done in a day!