LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement outlining his core recommendations for reforming the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) after he concluded his review of the Department at the Governor’s request:
“DHS provides critical services to our most vulnerable citizens, and DHS employees perform valuable work—especially those on the front lines across the state working every day to improve the lives of their fellow Arkansans. But even the best employees are hampered by an antiquated organizational structure, managerial obstacles, unacceptably poor internal communications, waste, mismanagement and duplication of work. My ‘Core DHS Recommendations,’ detailed below, address these problems from an organizational perspective as requested by the Governor. The good news is that we have an opportunity to reorganize DHS in a bold, innovative and comprehensive way that puts a premium on customer service: Scrap the silo-prone divisional structure and replace it with integrated human services delivery to serve our most vulnerable Arkansans better and save taxpayer dollars. An integrated approach to services delivery is a holistic one that considers all of the client information available and ensures coordination throughout DHS and with other state agencies. This approach allows outcomes to be measured more accurately to determine success or failure. Also, many of the organizational problems at DHS reflect state law impacting numerous departments and agencies and provide an opportunity to institute reforms government-wide. I learned a lot about DHS and state government during my more than 185 interviews. And while much of that information is outside the scope of the Governor’s requested review and not the subject of this release, I will put it to good use as part of a broader look at state government and advocate for reforms based on the information gathered.”
Core DHS Recommendations
ü Strengthen the role of the DHS Chief Financial Officer (CFO) by giving the CFO managerial control over all division CFOs.
ü Strengthen the role of the Assistant Director for Contract Support Services (ADCSS) by giving the ADCSS managerial control over all division contract and procurement staff. Rename the ADCSS by removing the word “Support.”
ü Establish education and experience requirements for CFOs.
ü Establish an Office of Legislative Affairs to handle communications with the legislature in a consistent and organized way.
ü Increase flexibility for managers by streamlining the process for changing titles, job descriptions, number of employees, job requirements, etc.
ü Institute new employee orientation that provides comprehensive holistic training regarding DHS and the services it provides.
ü Strengthen the Office of Quality Assurance.
ü Move all investigations of child maltreatment from the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division (CACD) regardless of severity.
ü Return to the previous structure at the Arkansas State Police where specific commissioned police officers are assigned to the CACD for a specified time to develop expertise in this area.
ü Further study whether Administrative Law Judges should be moved out of DHS consistent with the Model Administrative Procedures Act.
ü Adopt comprehensive reform of personnel laws relating to pay, hiring, firing, rewarding and disciplining of employees and the grievance process with the goal of recruiting, training and retaining productive employees and providing a career ladder for them to progress.
ü Move toward brick and mortar consolidation for county offices, where feasible, to increase access to county services.
ü Implement a computer system platform that employs a centralized intake to share data across all services provided.
The Governor asked Lieutenant Governor Griffin to focus his review on the organization of DHS. Lieutenant Governor Griffin did not include a review of the specific policies of each division or Medicaid policy. As a result, the review recommendations do not focus on these topics.
DHS Review Background
ü Over an 8-week period, Lieutenant Governor Griffin met with over 185 individuals, including concerned constituents, current and former DHS employees, elected officials and staff members, and other individuals with knowledge of the Department.
ü During the review, Lieutenant Governor Griffin visited several county offices, including DeValls Bluff, Hamburg, Monticello and Fort Smith, and heard first-hand accounts of what DHS does well, what it does poorly, and how we can make DHS better serve hardworking Arkansas taxpayers.
ü On Friday, March 4, Lieutenant Governor Griffin provided recommendations to the governor.
ü The need for reform is ongoing. As Lieutenant Governor Griffin has done since day one of his term in office, he will continue to meet with Arkansans who are interested in reforming state government, including DHS. His door is always open.
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