The Oklahoma Commission for Human Services on Wednesday appointed state Finance Director Preston Doerflinger to serve as interim director of the state Department of Human Services.
Doerflinger's appointment will become effective upon his resignation as director of the Office of State Finance. Doerflinger said he expects that to take place either Thursday or Friday, as soon as he ties up loose ends.
He will continue to serve on the governor's Cabinet as secretary of finance.
Doerflinger will replace Terri White as interim DHS director. White resigned the interim post Wednesday after questions arose as to whether her service violated a prohibition against dual state office holding, since White is also the commissioner for the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Officials said the law is silent on whether the prohibition applies when one of the positions is interim, but White decided to step down rather than risk legal problems.
White said she plans to continue to assist DHS during its transition.
White could have resigned her mental health post to serve as interim DHS director, but said she felt it was too important a post to vacate — even on a temporary basis — because the department serves more than 70,000 Oklahomans a year in need of mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Doerflinger stressed that his new appointment is temporary and that the governor has said she will reappoint him as state finance director once a permanent DHS director is selected. DHS commissioners have said they hope to have a new permanent director by July.
The DHS Commission offered to pay Doerflinger $155,000 a year to serve as interim DHS director, but he turned down the pay increase.
Doerflinger said he will continue to serve at his present salary, which is about $109,000 a year.