• Post-Obamacare law hiring at the Department of Health  and Human Services included 86 ‘criminal investigators,’ but just two ‘consumer  safety’ officers
  • On the day President Obama signed the  Affordable Care Act into law in  2010, HHS received authority to make 1,814 new  hires
  • The authorization included positions for  50 criminal  investigators. The agency increased that number to 86 
  • The agency was also authorized to  hire  261  ‘consumer safety officers.’ Only two  such employees were  hired

By  David Martosko In Washington

PUBLISHED: 21:27 EST, 21  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 21:27 EST, 21 August 2013

More than 1,600 new employees hired by the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources in the aftermath of Obamacare’s  passage include just two described as ‘consumer safety’ officers, but 86 tasked  with ‘criminal investigating’ – indicating that the agency is building an army  of detectives to sleuth out violations of a law that many in Congress who  supported it still find confusing.

On the day President Obama signed the  Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, HHS received authority from the Office of  Personnel Management (OPM) to make as many as 1,814 new hires under an emergency  ‘Direct Hiring Authority’ order.

The Obama administration ordered that  employment expansion despite a government-wide hiring freeze.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, left, discusses the Affordable Care Act at a news conference on Aug. 13, 2013 

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen  Sebelius, left, discusses the Affordable Care Act at a news conference on Aug.  13, 2013

 

A total of 1,684 of those positions were  filled. An analysis by MailOnline shows that at 2010 federal government salary  rates, the new employees’ salaries alone cost the U.S. at least $138.8 million  every year.

Had the agency filled all its available jobs,  that cost would have been a minimum of $159 million.

The hiring began in May 2010 and continued  through June 2013, making the later hires eligible for higher salaries as a  result of annual cost-of-living increases.

The difference between what HHS spent on new  Obamacare-related employees and what it was authorized to spend is explained by  its failure to hire most of the 261 ‘consumer safety officers’ it was authorized  to bring aboard. Only two such employees were hired.

But while OPM authorized HHS Deputy Assistant  Secretary for Human Resources Denise Carter — later renamed Denise Wells — to  hire 50 criminal investigators, the agency increased that number to 86 on its own.

After MailOnline lodged a Freedom Of  Information Request with HHS, the agency sent a spreadsheet containing  records of the positions it filled, along with the salary level for each one on  the government’s ‘GS’ hiring scale.

On the day President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, HHS received authority to make 1,814 new hires. Obama is pictured here on August 15  

On the day President Obama signed the Affordable Care  Act into law in 2010, HHS received authority to make 1,814 new hires. Obama is  pictured here on August 15

 

The lowest salary on the list was for a  single contracting officer at Grade 7, Step 1, an annual rate of about $42,350,  including a so-called ‘differential’ payments. Those increases are given to all  federal employees in order to adjust for regional cost-of-living  differences.

The highest salary in 2010 dollars, including  that differential payment, was about $161,450, earned by a total of 29 new  employee. They include health insurance administrators, contracting officers and  information technology managers.

The fleet of 86 new criminal investigators  are earning a range of compensation between $51,800 and $89,350, according to  the 2010 salary tables and differential payment guidelines.

Judicial Watch, a nonprofit that has told  MailOnline it files ‘hundreds’ of FOIA requests, first published evidence in  July of the HHS hiring binge.

‘Sounds like we now have the Obamacare  police,’ said the group’s president, Tom Fitton, after MailOnline showed him the  new data.

‘Given the confusion and problems of the  law’s implementation, we would need a small army to police all the waste, fraud,  and abuse that is already evident.’

Heritage Action for America, a conservative  lobby group that opposes implementation of the Affordable Care Act, told  MailOnline that it sees the hiring of criminal investigators inside HHS as a  sign that its position is more and more defensible.

‘The Obama administration continues to assert  near unilateral power when it comes to Obamacare,’ said Dan Holler, the group’s  communications director.

‘This blatant disregard for the rule of law  raises serious questions as to how these new criminal investigators will behave,  what guidelines they will follow and who will provide much-needed  oversight.’

Heritage Action is circulating a letter this  week, penned by freshman GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, calling on 100 House Republicans  to ‘take the steps necessary to defund Obamacare in its entirety, including on a  year-end funding bill like a continuing resolution.’

The Department of Health and Human Services  didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but it responded to  MailOnline’s FOIA request within the number of days the statute  permits.

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