Oklahoma City, Oklahoma —
“The Legislature already has a wealth of knowledge about this agency, so there is no need to duplicate what we’ve already done. Instead, we’re taking a somewhat outside-the-box approach,” Nelson said. “I’m confident this is exactly the type of approach needed in order to achieve real reforms that ensure DHS delivers the results Oklahomans expect. Our sense of urgency could not be any higher.”
The group’s meetings with workers will be private to allow for candid conversation and disclosure of sensitive information. The group will also engage in an in-depth study of the agency’s structure and resource allocation to determine if better results could be achieved through reorganization and reprioritizing resources. A public report on the group’s findings will be presented during a public meeting sometime next year.
Steele said DHS reform will be a policy priority in the House next session.
“My expectation is one I believe most Oklahomans share, and that is to do whatever it takes to produce serious improvement at DHS,” Steele said.
Officials at DHS – the largest agency in state government – pledged to give the group the access it needs to the agency in order to do its work.
“We thank Speaker Steele and the House for their willingness to work together to find solutions and look forward to assisting in every way possible,” DHS Director Howard Hendrick said. “This process will do a lot of good and I’m glad to be part of it.”
DHS commissioners also expressed support for the group’s plans.
“We are fully committed to building a better DHS for the 21st century and appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with Speaker Steele and all legislators in this process,” said incoming Oklahoma Commission for Human Services Chairman Brad Yarbrough. “It won’t be easy, but the best work never is. We stand ready for the challenge.”