WSAZ Investigates | Overpriced and underwhelming update

WSAZ Investigates | Overpriced and underwhelming update
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 7:08 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Just last week, we told you about a top to bottom review of West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR).

That review cost more than $1 million of your tax dollars, but lawmakers say it doesn’t even come close to addressing how the agency can overcome major issues.

We’ve looked that report over, too, and have been asking for weeks when the DHHR would be announcing changes from that report. After delaying nearly a week, we finally got one announcement.

“Frankly, it looks like a million dollar waste of our taxpayer dollars,” said Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, president of the West Virginia Senate.

That’s how lawmakers described a top to bottom review of West Virginia’s largest agency, the Department of Health and Human Resources.

It was ordered by Gov. Jim Justice after he vetoed a bill in March that would have split the DHHR into two separate agencies.

“Naturally, we want to improve DHHR in every way, and I stand behind that. So, we’re going to get it right, and when we get it right we’ll move forward,” said Justice in April.

The review was conducted by the McChrystal Group, a consulting based in Virginia.

The only real changes we found in their report was a plan to reorganize the top layer of the department under the cabinet secretary. The plan would add a third deputy secretary, and each would have a specific focus.

Those three deputy secretaries, three other executive level leaders, and the cabinet secretary would make up an executive leadership team.

The report was released Nov. 10. The following week, WSAZ’s Sarah Sager asked DHHR Cabinet Secretary Crouch what changes the agency would be making, and when they would be put into place.

“I need the time to speak to our staff first. I think they should hear some of these changes before the public does. So, you’re going to be hearing those changes next week,” said Crouch at a Nov. 16 COVID-19 media briefing.

When those announcements did not come last week, Sager asked Secretary Crouch again during the Governor Justice’s COVID-19 briefing on Nov. 22.

“I did say it would be this week, it will be next week. It’s Thanksgiving week, so we’re going to hold off on those announcements,” Crouch said.

“We probably shouldn’t have said we’re going to announce this week and not announce this week, but I’ll promise you that we’ll make that announcement on Monday,” Justice said.

On Monday, that promised announcement arrived by press release, naming Cammie Chapman as the new Deputy Secretary of Child and Adult Services. According to the release, Chapman has served as associate general counsel for DHHR for several years.

Sager followed up, reaching out to the DHHR and the governor’s office for an interview, to see what other changes were going to be made. She was told both Secretary Crouch and the governor wouldn’t be available until the next virtual COVID-19 briefing that is expected to happen on Wednesday.

The governor’s communication team also told Sager another announcement is expected to be made Tuesday.

For coverage of the original investigation:

WSAZ Investigates | Overpriced and Underwhelming