Audit results released by Gov. Justice | News, Sports, Jobs

CHARLESTON — An audit of a massive department dealing with multiple health and social crises in West Virginia separates itself from lawmakers’ desire to split it in two.

Governor Jim Justice released a report Thursday afternoon examining the organization and structure of the state Department of Health and Human Resources after vetoing a bill earlier this year that would have divided DHHR in the Health Department and the Human Resources Department.

The McChrystal Group, a Virginia-based management services company co-founded by retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, won a $1.08 million contract in June to conduct an organizational assessment and plan strategic for the DHHR.

“I sincerely thank the McChrystal Group for their work on this report and for their expertise in analyzing this important agency,” Justice said in a statement. “I have the greatest faith in the great people of West Virginia who are employed by DHHR to come together as a team and make the changes necessary to become a better organization for our state.”

The report revealed problems with DHHR’s structure, strategic direction and operational processes. He recommends developing action plans to implement department-wide goals, creating a leadership team to coordinate efforts across the department’s many offices, developing leadership, improving communication and to place greater emphasis on improving administrative processes.

This million dollars consisted of 17 weeks for the McChrystal Group to complete the organizational assessment with the help of the Human Services Research Institute and includes interviews with staff and stakeholder groups, employee surveys and reviews of documents. It took 12 weeks to complete the strategic plan.

One thing the McChrystal Group is adamant about: DHHR should not be split in two. House Bill 4020, passed in the 2022 legislative session, would have separated DHHR into the Department of Health and the Department of Human Resources. A 2014 audit under former Governor Earl Ray Tomblin also called for splitting the DHHR in two, but was never acted upon.

“To improve health and social services outcomes in West Virginia, the status quo is not an option; DHHR requires bold organizational change,” says the report. “Successfully leading an organizational change of this magnitude requires a significant investment in change management. However, creating two separate departments is not the required change, as it would divert leadership time, funding, and attention from serving the people of West Virginia.

“Rather than addressing the root causes of DHHR’s challenges, a split would exacerbate them by diverting the attention of central office teams and office managers from improving their support to teams in the field and towards the demands administrative of the split”, the report continued. “This change in focus would disrupt DHHR’s ability to provide care and services to the people of West Virginia.”

In his veto message earlier this year, Justice said HB 4020 failed to take into account the complexity of splitting up the state’s largest department that handles more than $7 billion in state and federal funds and employs more than 4,900 full-time workers. He said Thursday he was satisfied with the recommendations of the McChrystal group.

“When I vetoed House Bill 4020, I pledged to make our DHHR the best it can be so that our most vulnerable West Virginians are served with the highest degree of care,” Justice said. “I made the right decision to veto this bill in March 2022, and these national experts confirmed my decision with their report.”

The West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Committee on Government and Finance shifted focus to DHHR over the summer, hiring former DHHR deputy secretary Jeremiah Samples as a staff member. . Samples served as Deputy Secretary of DHHR under Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch from 2017 until April, when Samples left the department citing differences of opinion with the direction the department was going. His experience with the agency spans nearly 15 years.

The DHHR has been on the front lines of many societal issues in the state, including low national health rankings, including poor rankings for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung and heart disease . According to DHHR, there were 1,504 confirmed drug overdose deaths in 2021, a 12.6% increase from the 1,336 confirmed drug overdose deaths in 2020. The foster care system has 6,421 children in care. with a high need for CPS workers.

“I have instructed Secretary Crouch and his leadership team to immediately implement the recommendations of the McChrystal Group,” Justice said. “They will do this effectively and efficiently and ensure that there is no disruption to any vital support or service for the people of West Virginia who depend on DHHR. I will also work closely with the Legislative Assembly on any changes in laws or funding that may be required to implement these changes. »

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