December 22, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – Governor Mike Dunleavy has directed the Alaska Department of Law to draft an executive order reorganizing the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services into two distinct executive branch departments: the Alaska Department of Health and the Alaska Department of Family and Community Services. This reorganization will streamline and improve the delivery of critical programs and services while creating more flexibility and responsiveness in both departments resulting in improved outcomes.
“In order to obtain a keen focus on each crucial division and achieve the outcomes of each program that Alaskans expect and deserve, I will exercise my constitutional authority and reorganize the department to meet the needs of Alaskans into the 21st century,” said Governor Dunleavy. “The bottom line is Alaskans will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this reorganization, particularly children, the elderly and other vulnerable populations.”
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 (EO). The EO, 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 EO will be effective July 1, 2021.
The EO will reallocate the current divisions inside Health and Social Services into two departments:
Department of Family and Community Services
The Alaska Department of Family and Community Services will ensure the safety and personal wellbeing of vulnerable Alaskans. The department will focus on early intervention and prevention to strengthen Alaska families and provide a focused approach to services for individual Alaskans. The department will consist of the following divisions.
- Division of Juvenile Justice
- Office of Children’s Services
- Alaska Psychiatric Institute
- Alaska Pioneer Homes
Department of Health
The Alaska Department of Health will promote and protect the health and wellbeing of Alaskans. The department will serve as the eligibility, payment, and data department that will focus on whole person care by leveraging evidence based, data driven practices and care models to make the most appropriate care available to recipients at the appropriate cost. In addition to housing the state’s Chief Medical Officer, the department will consist of the following divisions.
- Division of Senior & Disabilities Services
- Division of Behavioral Health
- Division of Public Health
- Division of Public Assistance
- Division of Health Care Services
Each department will include a division for Finance & Management Services.
“The Alaskans served by the Department of Health and Social Services, as well as the employees who provide those services deserve to see this process begin today,” said Adam Crum, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. “By reorganizing the department everyone involved will benefit in many areas internally and externally including focused care, increased responsiveness, and overall workflow. Co Aligning divisions and programs into distinct departments, with distinct missions and focus, will allow each department to focus on the needs of Alaskans through the services they provide.”
The reorganization will not reduce programs or services to Alaskans who are currently served. The reorganization is intended to establish a firm foundation for each department that will lead to increased focus on services and outcomes for the Alaskans that are served. Governor Dunleavy and Commissioner Crum will engage with stakeholders, tribal health organizations, DHSS employees, and legislators about the executive order and will welcome their feedback as this process moves forward.
Individuals with questions regarding the reorganization may send their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A FAQ on the proposed executive order can be found here.