Gov. Mike Dunleavy is seen here at an Aug. 16, 2021 news conference. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is seen here at an Aug. 16, 2021 news conference. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

Governor revisits proposal to divide DHSS

The move would create a Department of Health and a Department of Family and Community Services.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is once again looking to divide the Department of Health and Social Services.

The restructuring, which Dunleavy plans to call for in an executive order next month, would create a Department of Health and a Department of Family and Community Services.

After Dunleavy issues the order, lawmakers will have 60 days to decide whether to reject it. If they don’t take action, the law would take effect July 1, the Associated Press reported.

The move has been attempted before by the governor.

Dunleavy tried to move forward with the restructuring earlier this year in an effort to more easily manage all the divisions in the department, but he withdrew the emergency order to restructure DHSS last March because of “technical issues” with the legislation, the Juneau Empire reported.

Adam Crum, the commissioner for DHSS, on Thursday said the first initiative was brought forward by DHSS directors. This time around, he said, the department has had more time to engage stakeholders and understand how the COVID-19 pandemic affects daily operations.

“We have worked across the board with provider groups, with beneficiaries, to get them to understand what this means (and) how our primary goal is to not have a disruption of services,” he said.

The split into two departments, Crum said, would make operations easier to manage.

“What this allows is better span of control in managerial aspects, so that items and burdens in the department of this size can get kind of under wraps,” he said.

Removing administrative barriers, as well as giving the health department room to operate more freely are part of the plan, he said.

In the FY2023 budget Dunleavy proposed this week, the cost of the split is outlined to be just under $2 million, Crum said. The restructuring would also require a commissioner for each new department, as well as 10 new positions and 10 reclass positions.

For more information, visit the reorganization page on the Office of the Commissioner website at dhss.alaska.gov/Commissioner/Pages/reorganization/faq.aspx.

More information about the governor’s FY23 budget package and process can be found at the state’s Office of Management and Budget at omb.alaska.gov/fiscal-year-2023-proposed-budget/.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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