He was the highest profile casualty of Oregon's health insurance exchange disaster.
Bruce Goldberg, the respected, long-time director of the Oregon Health Authority, offered to resign on March 18. Two days later, with the Cover Oregon tech mess going from bad to worse, Gov. John Kitzhaber announced that he'd shown Goldberg the door.
The resignation was "effective immediately," said officials in the governor's office.
Or so we thought.
It turns out, Goldberg never really left and is now drawing a full-time salary from the state. Oregon officials confirm Goldberg returned to full-time status at the Oregon Health Authority on May 15 and will use his accrued vacation pay until July 18.
He's getting paid $14,425 a month.
In a March 20 press conference, Kitzhaber blamed Goldberg's decisions as major reason for the Cover Oregon debacle, and portrayed his resignation as a measure of accountability. "Those were his calls," Kitzhaber said.
State officials at the time said Goldberg would provide some help with a transition at Cover Oregon. But they said flatly that Goldberg would not be returning to the Oregon Health Authority, where he served as director before taking the Cover Oregon interim director post.
But Goldberg never stopped drawing a paycheck and will continue to do so until July 18, The Oregonian has learned. He continued drawing a full director's salary at Cover Oregon for nearly a month after Kitzhaber announced his "resignation," until April 10. That's when the Cover Oregon board formally accepted his resignation at a board meeting.
Then he drew a Cover Oregon salary of one-fourth that rate, $3,606.25 a month, in exchange for being available for consulting with his successor, Clyde Hamstreet, until May 14. On May 15, the day after his employment terminated at Cover Oregon, he returned to the Oregon Health Authority, where his full salary was restored.
Goldberg was director of the OHA from 2003 until Dec. 1, 2013. He then took the temporary post of Cover Oregon director, replacing Rocky King, who was suffering health issues. Goldberg remained in that post atop Cover Oregon until March 20, the day his "resignation" was announced.
Kitzhaber's office immediately shared Goldberg's letter of resignation to Kitzhaber, which read, "Please accept this letter as my resignation as the director of the Oregon Health Authority and acting Executive Director of Cover Oregon."
Several state employees have left the state, voluntarily or otherwise, in the wake of the exchange's troubles. Rocky King, Cover Oregon's first director, was the first to go in early December. He left the post for health reasons, though documents show he offered to let the board fire him publicly under the guise of accountability.
Later that month, Carolyn Lawson, former chief information officer at the OHA, was asked to resign over the exchange problems. More recently, after Kitzhaber called for their removal at his March 20 press conference,, Aaron Karjala and Triz DelaRosa -- chief information officer and chief operating officer, respectively, at Cover Oregon -- were also pushed out.
Last month, the Cover Oregon board voted to drop its bug-ridden, unfinished IT project and shift to the federal exchange, despite $248 million spent. The move will cost approximately another $40 million, most of it picked up by the federal government.
Federal criminal investigators issued subpoenas last week to OHA and Cover Oregon requesting internal documents and emails from Goldberg, Lawson and several others. The state is considering whether to file a civil lawsuit against Oracle Corp., the primary technology contractor hired to build the exchange.
We'll update this post as more information becomes available.
--Nick Budnick and Jeff Manning