Dunleavy proposes splitting DHSS into two agencies

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed to reorganize the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services into two separate agencies to streamline and improve delivery of critical services.

Under an executive order drafted by the state Department of Law, DHSS would split into two departments: The Department of Family and Community Services and the Department of Health.

The first would include the Division of Juvenile Justice, Office of Children’s Services, Alaska Psychiatric Institute and Alaska Pioneer Homes. The second would include the Divisions of Senior & Disabilities Services, Behavioral Health, Public Health, Public Assistance and Health Care Services. Each department would have a division for finance and management services.

Reorganization would not reduce current programs or services, according to the governor’s office.

“By reorganizing the department everyone involved will benefit in many areas internally and externally including focused care, increased responsiveness and overall workflow,” DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum said.

The proposed reorganization would involve minimal additional costs, since all of the units and programs involved already exist under the larger state agency, according to the governor’s office.

Questions regarding the proposed reorganization may be sent to dhssreorg@alaska.gov.

The Alaska Constitution grants the governor the power to make such organizational changes to the executive branch by use of an executive order.

The governor’s office said the executive order establishing the two specific branch departments would be submitted to the upcoming regular session of the 32nd Legislature in January. Legislators have 60 days to disapprove that executive order or it will become law effective July 1.