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Oklahoma DHS hires search firm to find new director candidates

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has hired Neher & Associates, a California company, to identify candidates for the agency's top position.
by Nolan Clay Published: June 12, 2012

A California company will be paid up to $21,000 to help the state Department of Human Services find a new director.

Neher & Associates was hired last week to identify more candidates for the agency's top job.

The company's president, Robert L. Neher Jr., said Monday searches normally take 90 to 120 days.

“We're probably going to try to do it in less time than that,” said Neher, who lived in Edmond as a child. “We're real excited about it. We think it's a great position, certainly an extremely important one for the state.”

Previous director

The agency's last director, Howard Hendrick, announced in January he was retiring and since has left. DHS commissioners initially hoped to have a new director hired by July 1.

The agency already has done its own search for a new director. Commissioners and Gov. Mary Fallin interviewed the top two candidates from that search last month. DHS officials then moved forward with hiring a professional search firm.

Only one of the candidates from the original search remains in the running. That candidate, Ed Lake, is a retired deputy commissioner of the Department of Human Services in Tennessee.

Out of the running

Commissioners informed the other candidate, Eric Bost, they would not consider him further, DHS commission Chairman Brad Yarbrough said.

Bost is a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and was chief executive officer of the Texas Department of Human Services from 1997 to 2001.

The DHS director is in charge of more than 7,000 employees and a budget of more than $2 billion.

by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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At a glance

Neher & Associates will be paid up to $15,000 for its professional services and up to $6,000 for its expenses. The company is based in West Sacramento, Calif. Company officials say they have conducted more than 240 executive searches.


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