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Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins to Retire

Texas Health Care Commissioner steps down, leaving big shoes to fill and even bigger projects to manage.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) issued a news release stating that Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins notified Governor Rick Perry of plans to retire. Hawkins was appointed to the role in January 2003, replacing former Commissioner Don Gilbert. For the past few years, he has overseen the state's five health and human services agencies, their combined annual budget of $25 million and over 50,000 employees. He led one of the largest reorganizations after the 2003 Texas Legislature consolidated 12 state agencies into the five new agencies. Most notable is that the reorganization was completed on time with approximately $1 billion in savings and no service disruptions. On the flipside, Hawkins was blamed by some for the misfortunes of the public assistance call center fiasco and reportedly battled with the feds over the roll-out of the eligibility system.

During Hawkins' tenure, he oversaw several major projects and procurements, including the infamous Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System (TIERS). The new Commissioner will lead on-going efforts to modernize the state's eligibility enrollment system for Medicaid, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other benefit programs. Since October 2008, HHSC has completed the conversion of cases for the various entitlement and benefit programs for all offices in the Central Texas area (region 7) into TIERS. As the roll-out continues it will be the job of the new Commissioner to oversee a smooth transition and prevent the loss of benefits in accordance with the transition plan outlined in House Bill 3575. In addition, the state is engaged in the re-procurement of the Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) Fiscal Agent Services which is estimated to be a $600 million contract based on the incumbent contract with ACS.

There has been no official word as to who will be Hawkins' replacement. State Representative Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) has been quoted as saying she has heard lawmakers name Lowell Keig as a potential replacement. Keig is a lawyer for Youth and Family Centered Services Inc., which is a ten-state health, education and life skills provider focused on troubled youth. In 2000, he served as Chief of the Elder Law and Public Health Division under former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn.

Once a new Commissioner is named, the impact of the change in leadership will become clear, as well as the new agenda and goals for leading HHSC over the next several years. Vendors interested in doing business in Texas with HHSC should pay close attention to the Governor's decision. Building a relationship with the selected candidate will help determine future business partnerships. Further, the new Commissioner will be tasked with solving the problem of processing benefit and entitlement applications in a timely, accurate fashion, and may seek additional external assistance.

The following are related GovWin Opportunities:

  • TIERS Maintenance and Support: GovWin Opportunity #42134
  • MMIS Fiscal Agent Services: GovWin Opportunity #43517
  • Eligibility Support Services: GovWin Opportunity #41073
  • Enrollment Broker for Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program: GovWin Opportunity #42078

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