Monday, September 15, 2008

State Social Services Secretary Resigns

The head of Louisiana's social services department has resigned after receiving heavy criticism from Governor Bobby Jindal about her agency's response to Hurricane Gustav.

Gov. Bobby Jindal had vowed to make changes at the state agency after the problems unfolded in the wake of Hurricane Gustav.

“I said before that there will be consequences. There will be significant changes made at the department,” he said last week.

Two of the biggest problems in the state’s response to Gustav traced to DSS. Showers were not in place for three days at shelters in Shreveport, Bastrop and Monroe. Disaster food stamp distribution was marred by long lines in the sun as the department scrambled to train workers to process applications.

Jindal reappointed Williamson in January. She was one of the few cabinet secretaries to be retained from former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s administration.

Jindal appointed gubernatorial policy adviser Kristy Nichols to serve as DSS’ interim director. Nichols worked on the successful passage of Jindal's health care legislative package during the 2008 session, including legislation on mental health care reform, health care transparency initiatives, increasing health care technology, and increasing access to private health insurance for uninsured Louisiana children. Nichols previously served as a policy adviser for Jindal’s transition team.

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