The Oklahoma Department of Human Services will use an assistant attorney general as its new general counsel as part of a reorganization of the agency.
Ronald Baze will remain an employee of the attorney general while heading the DHS legal staff. This is a change from the past when the general counsel for DHS worked directly for that agency.
“We are breaking new ground in pioneering this relationship between DHS and the office of Attorney General Scott Pruitt,” said Ed Lake, DHS director. “I believe this new legal model will be mutually beneficial to our agency and the state of Oklahoma. DHS will now have access to all of the resources the attorney general's office has to offer.”
Baze will serve under contract with DHS and work out of the Sequoyah Memorial Office Building where central DHS offices are located. He succeeds Charles Waters, who retired Jan. 1.
As part of the reorganization, Sheree Powell, who has been in charge of DHS media communications, will be given additional responsibilities and a new title of director of communications and community relations.
Powell will oversee the offices of community and faith engagement, information and referral, and provider relations, while continuing to handle media communications duties.
The reorganization also calls for finance and some administrative services functions of the agency to be moved under a new director of finance and administration. David Ligon, the current interim director and former chief of staff of the department of rehabilitative services, will fill that position. He will oversee all finance functions of the agency as well as support services and the office of business quality.
Sandra Harrison, DHS's current chief administrative officer and interim chief operation officer, said she plans to leave the agency Sept. 15 to pursue other opportunities.
Harrison praised Ligon, who will take over some of her duties, describing him as “an excellent manager and an excellent person.”
Following are other parts of the reorganization:
Child care services will be placed under the management of Jim Struby, director of adult and family services.
Adult protective services will become a free-standing program within community living and support services, under the management of Mark Jones.
A new chief of staff position is being created to manage human resources and the offices of intergovernmental relations and policy, and planning research and statistics. The new chief of staff has not yet been named.