Oklahoma Lawmakers Ask 'What's Next?' For DHS

Wednesday, January 25th 2012, 8:17 pm
By: News 9

What's next for DHS, now that their director of more than 13 years is retiring? Will DHS Commissioners look for a successor from within the state agency, or look outside the state for a replacement?

A number of lawmakers have been calling for major reforms to take place at DHS for quite some time.

And now that longtime Director Howard Hendrick has announced he is retiring, they are hopeful the commissioners, and the agency, will make some real changes - from the top, down.

Some were surprised by Director Howard Hendrick's announcement. Others say it was only a matter of time.

"I wish he had done it earlier," Said Representative Richard Morrisette of Oklahoma, who has been critical of the director and the agency as a whole.

"For four years now, I have been pounding on the table that we need to reform DHS in its entirety to make it more efficient and deliver their services better."

Fellow Representative Mike Sanders of Kingfisher also says it is a step in the right direction.

"I think a fresh face, I think a fresh start, someone who can come in with new idea. Someone who can bring a different approach, I do believe this is a first step."

Both representatives say the agency needs to bring someone from the outside in. But another lawmaker disagrees.

"There's a lot of capable people in Oklahoma," said Representative Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City. He is on a committee tasked with suggesting real reforms.

"I think if you had two people who were the same, I'd pick the person from Oklahoma, as opposed to the person from outside just because they're familiar with the state. but ultimately the Commission will make that decision."

Hendrick's last day as director of DHS is set for February 29th. DHS Commissioners will appoint an interim director while they search for a permanent replacement.