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Behind the hiring of a Texas psychological well being programming director

When officers on the Texas Well being and Human Companies Fee have been hiring a brand new director for psychological well being programming final 12 months, they evaluated ten candidates, 9 of whom labored within the area.

Driving the information: However the chief expertise of the one who acquired the job was working within the workplace of Gov. Greg Abbott, the place he was director of the prison justice division, per data obtained by Axios by public data requests.

Why it issues: Texas ranked final out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for total entry to psychological well being care, in accordance with the 2021 State of Psychological Well being in America report.

The massive image: It is common for governors’ aides to fan out and develop into company officers.

  • And it might probably work to the company’s profit — a related political participant in its ranks may help place the company for extra money from the Texas Legislature, for instance. 
  • It additionally may give the governor a key lever on the within of an company.
  • “Loads of testifying legislative expertise, many subcommittees,” Reilly Webb, who acquired the job, stated in one among his interviews. “I’m not a stranger to proposed laws and lawmakers.”

Sure, however: Good governance teams say the preparations imply the perfect folks within the area might be shut out of necessary coverage jobs.

  • Talking usually, Adrian Shelley, director of the Texas workplace of Public Citizen, instructed Axios hiring that favors “loyalty … over skilled {qualifications}” results in “weak businesses that do not stay as much as their mission to serve the general public.”
  • Of notice: Axios noticed no proof that the governor’s workplace was straight concerned in Webb’s successful the job, aside from serving as a reference.

What they’re saying: In one among his job interviews, Webb stated his expertise on the prison justice division ready him for his new job as a result of “one among my employees sat on the behavioral well being coordinating council” and the prison justice system serves “because the default response” for behavioral well being points — in addition to engaged on drug courts and drug initiatives.

By the numbers: Webb acquired the best cumulative rating among the many ten folks evaluated by fee employees — although one of many 4 interviewers did not rating him within the high 5.

  • Evaluators additionally famous his contracting know-how from his earlier job as grant director on the HHSC, his expertise overseeing massive groups and the highest marks from his present and previous supervisors, testifying to his command of complicated points.
  • “After a rigorous, aggressive choice course of, [Webb] shortly emerged as the highest candidate for the job primarily based on his in depth grant and contracting expertise (together with prior employment at HHSC) and his historical past administering well being associated applications all through Texas, all of that are core capabilities of this system space he leads,” Bishop instructed Axios.
  • Of notice: Webb was one among two males amongst these evaluated.

He was chosen for the place on Oct. 1, 2021, at a wage of $125,000.

The opposite facet: “Understanding that somebody and not using a psychological well being background is on this place is regarding,” one of many different candidates for the job instructed Axios.

  • The individual requested anonymity as a result of they nonetheless work within the area.
  • “The chosen candidate’s background suggests connections have been extra priceless than the expertise needed to handle the system’s challenges. I really feel my time and efforts have been wasted and that I and others have been merely token candidates to offer the phantasm of an goal choice course of,” they stated.

Zoom out: Since Webb acquired the job, the in-state reply price of the Nationwide Suicide Lifeline has elevated from 37% to 46%, in accordance with HHSC spokesperson Ty Bishop.

  • Webb has additionally overseen the discharge of federal COVID reduction cash for needy households with dependent kids who’ve psychological well being sickness, mental or developmental incapacity or substance use dysfunction and those that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Bishop stated the company adheres to federal employment discrimination legislation in its hiring practices.
  • The state company declined Axios’ interview provide to Webb.

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