Gov.-elect Greg Abbott has announced an independent review of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission as criticism mounts against the agency’s contracting policies. Abbott says his “strike force” will conduct a “comprehensive performance review of management, contracting and operations” within the department.

Gov.-elect Abbott’s team will be led by Billy Hamilton, executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer of the Texas A&M University System, and Heather Griffith Peterson, chief financial officer of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

The announcement follows a meeting by the Sunset Advisory Commission Wednesday. The committee, which is in charge of reviewing the efficiency of state agencies, slammed the department’s awarding of a $110 million contract to software company 21CT. The HHSC is accused of securing that contract outside the competitive bidding process required by law.

The department’s top attorney, Jack Stick, and Inspector General Doug Wilson have both resigned in the wake of this scandal, and a criminal investigation is ongoing.  Lawmakers are also considering consolidating the HHSC with the state’s four other health-related agencies this year.

Abbott released this statement:

“In the wake of recent revelations at the Health and Human Services Commission, my transition team has taken steps to ensure there is a full and thorough outside review of management, operations, and contracting at the agency.  Consequently, I have asked former Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton to lead an independent performance review of HHSC operations.  We have coordinated with HHSC Commissioner Kyle Janek on this initiative and he has pledged his agency’s full cooperation with Hamilton’s performance review.”