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DHS Director Consolidates Authority, Oversight At The Top

Bobby Ampezzan

The Department of Human Services director today announced the roll out of a new command structure, and with it, a number of raises for a handful of its directors.

Speaking in her Salt Lake Olympics-themed office before representatives of the Fourth Estate, new DHS Director Cindy Gillespie said she’s completed a 60-day review of the agency’s core structure and found it too decentralized.

“So, phase 1, we decided,  was going to be to take a look at our core business structures and see what we needed to do to put together a business foundation here that could allow us to make change,” she said. “That’s what we’re rolling out today. As we go into the next few months, we’re going to look at how we deliver our programs. What do we do with our clients? How do we provide customer services? And this will give us the ability to do that, by making this first round of changes.”

There are 10 divisions under the DHS umbrella, and each has its own information technology (IT), finance and procurement, and human resources departments. That changes now, she said.

The new plan calls for the creation of seven new offices that will govern all of the Department of Human Services and report to the DHS Director. These offices include Finance, Procurement, Human Resources, Information Technology, Communications and Community Engagement, Legislative and Inter-Governmental Affairs, and Chief (Legal) Counsel.

And the reorganization means promotions for Division of Medical Services Assistant Director Mark Story to Chief Fiscal Officer, with a salary bump of $33,290, or from $98,404 to $131,694; former DHS Deputy Director Misty Bowen-Eubanks to Chief Procurement Officer, a raise of $12,027, or from $96,216 to $108,243; and former DHS public relations director Amy Webb to Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer, with a raise of $12,899, or from $76,087 to $88,968.

A new position, that of Chief Legislative and Inter-Governmental Affairs Director, has been created, with a salary of $108,243, and filled by current state Rep. Kelley Linck (R-Flippin).

Current Chief Information Officer Jeff Dean will oversee IT but not be given a new title or raise, while Director of Policy and Legal David Sterling will be Chief Legal Counsel but not given a raise.

Credit Bobby Ampezzan / KUAR NEWS

Part of the problem, Gillespie said, is that one of the state’s largest departments has an annual turnover rate of 22 percent. In other words, department staff – from administrative support to lawyers to social workers and educators – stay less than five years on average.

“When we go to hire, we’re frankly competing with Baptist, we’re competing with UAMS. We’re competing with other hospitals and other medical centers for our employees.”

This new, more conspicuously top-down command structure will do a better job attracting, evaluating and retaining talent, Gillespie said.

Previously, many departments within DHS did their own hiring, their own technology systems installation and maintenance, their own procurement of materials and services, and their own finances.

Gillespie promised substantial savings under this new organization.

“We will, by having us look at all of our finances, find ourselves much better positioned to actually catch problems before they occur, and have more integrity in our spending.”

Gillespie said her 60-day review also uncovered a lack of strategic focus on external stakeholders, which includes the legislature and the public.

The director also said a new office will focuses on nonprofit support and faith-based organizations. "We hear constantly from the outside world that they want to help us. They’d like to help us do our missions, and frankly, if there’s work that can be done by a nonprofit group or faith-based organization then we don’t need to be doing it inside the government.”

Gillespie was a senior vice president under future Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney when Romney led the Salt Lake City Olympics. She was in charge of federal relations and the torch relay. Her office is outfitted with Olympic torches and pictures of her with Romney and fellow senior staff.

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