Gov. Mike Dunleavy has issued the call to split the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

State officials made the announcement on Tuesday and Dunleavy spoke during an afternoon press conference. Dunleavy directed the Alaska Department of Law to draft an executive order to reorganize DHSS and split it into two separate departments — the Department of Health and the Alaska Department of Family and Community Services.

“We want the government to be better. We want the government to perform better. We’re not eliminating any programs through this executive order. What we want to do is to split it out so it can be managed better,” Dunleavy said during his afternoon press conference. “The idea is to make sure these programs do what they’re supposed to do with better oversight as opposed to a very large department.”

The plan would place the Division of Health Care Services, Division of Public Assistance, Division of Behavioral Health, The Division of Senior and Disabilities Services and the Division of Public Health under the umbrella of the Department of Health. The Office of Children’s Services, Alaska Pioneer Homes, Division of Juvenile Justice and Alaska Psychiatric Institute would fall under the Department of Family and Community Services.

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum called it an, “aligning of services,” during the press conference. Crum said the current department serves about 725,000 Alaskans from prenatal to end of life, and has the largest number of employees in 10 different divisions.

“This reorganization provides a sharpened focus for both departments, which means there will be better delivery of essential services to Alaskans,” Crum said.

According to a press release issued by state officials Tuesday, Article III, Section 23 of the Alaska Constitution grants the governor the power to make organizational changes to the executive branch through the use of an executive order. The order, establishing two executive branch departments, will be submitted during the regular session of the 32nd Alaska Legislature in January. Its members have 60 days to disapprove it or it becomes law. The order would be effective July 1, 2021.


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