In accordance with Governor Cox’s vision for greater coordination and state government efficiency, a series of bills dealing with state agency mergers and realignment were passed throughout the 2021 Legislative session. UPEA’s top priority during agency consolidation discussions is to ensure the protection of jobs, ensure transparency, and provide an open forum for public employee input.
“UPEA met with Governor Cox, and it is our understanding that agency consolidation will not result in a reduction of jobs. Utah’s public employees are considered the most efficient workforce in the country. UPEA will continue to work with the governor’s office and state agencies to ensure a smooth transition for public employees and to continue the gold standard we have established.” -UPEA Executive Director Todd Losser
HB 365, State Agency Realignment – Creation of the Department of Health and Human Services
HB365, State Agency Realignment sponsored by Rep Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, will transition the Utah Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) into a newly created single state agency – the Department of Health and Human Services. All functions of the two departments will be merged, with the exception of the Medicaid eligibility components that will be placed into the Department of Workforce Services (DWS). The bill allocates funding to transfer 10 FTE’s to DWS to perform the Medicaid functions. Rich Saunders, Director of the DOH stated “the purpose of HB365 isn’t to cut jobs, only to improve the services provided by these two departments. [Our goal is] improving the delivery of these critical services, mostly to our underserved and marginalized communities.”
SB 181, Department of Government Operations – Consolidation of the Department of Administrative Services, Department of Technology Services, and the Department of Human Resource Management
SB181, Department of Government Operations sponsored by Sen Ann Millner, R-Ogden, consolidates the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), the Department of Technology Services (DTS), and the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) into one department – the Department of Government Operations. Miller explained that “any changes to positions will not be done through a reduction in force. It would just be done through [attrition].”
HB 346, Natural Resources Entities Amendments – Increases Collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Environmental Quality
HB346, Natural Resources Entities Amendments sponsored by Rep Casey Snider, R-Paradise, moves the Office of Energy Development into the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and splits the Division of State Parks from what will be called the Division of Recreation. The bill sets up a coordination council between the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Environmental Quality. The council will have a mandated monthly meeting. The legislation also includes a long-term study to be conducted by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) to look at redundancies and overlap between the departments for possible future consolidation.
All agencies involved with consolidation will have until December 1, 2021, to present a transition plan to the Governor and the Legislature. This timeline gives the Legislature time to review the plans, address any issues during the 2021 Legislative Session, and adjust appropriations before implementation on July 1, 2022.