Employment Security executive never had evaluation

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina's problem-plagued Employment Security Commission is among a handful of agencies that don't require annual performances for their chief executive or director -- and critics of the agency say it's another sign the ESC needs an overhaul.


State law requires that most workers and at least 61 agency heads have performance appraisals. Some others that aren't covered by that law put their chiefs through appraisals anyway.

The Employment Security Commission's three members have no formal procedure to evaluate the day-to-day leadership of the director they pay $134,000.

"Well, I think we have a daily assessment when he works at the pleasure of the commissioners," commission Chairman Billy McLeod said last week.

"So I don't think it's necessary that you have an annual evaluation or anything. ... If he does a good job, I reckon that's an evaluation that you keep him. And if you let him go I reckon that'd be an evaluation that he didn't meet your standards," McLeod said.

That "speaks volumes to the problems that they have," Democratic state Sen. Joel Lourie of Columbia said Tuesday.

McLeod confirmed that commission member Becky Richardson last year wanted former executive director Ted Halley removed in the midst of criticism from Gov. Mark Sanford about the agency's operations. But Halley "was within about a year of his retirement. He was doing what I thought a good job," McLeod said. "And I didn't want it to appear that we were making him a scapegoat when everything started last year with the governor's accusation and all."

Halley started at the agency in 1973 and became its executive director in 2003. He retired in November. Agency director Sam Foster said Halley is no longer an employee and would not provide contact information. There was no immediate response to a message left on a phone listed in Halley's name in Camden.

Critics say the need for an agency overhaul became evident after a state Legislative Audit Council review found the agency wasting money.

Last week, a State Auditor report said the agency lacked the skills needed to properly handle accounting. The report said the agency did not pay income taxes withheld on benefits on time, sparking nearly $1 million in state Revenue Department penalties that were mostly waived. And on Tuesday, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom said he has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look at issues involving proper reporting of federal stimulus cash.