Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today changes in oversight of the Developmental Disabilities Council on account of a federal finding of a history of poor performance.
The governor’s release:
Governor Asa Hutchinson has issued an Executive Order making the Department of Finance and Administration the host agency for the Developmental Disabilities Council. The move comes after a letter from the federal Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) and the Administration for Community Living Office of Grants Management (OGM) classified the Developmental Disabilities Council as high risk due to a “history of poor performance.”
Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:
“Based upon information we received from the federal managers, these are problems that predate the current leadership. I am asking Director Eric Munson to work with DFA to ensure that we make the changes that are federally required. I remain firmly committed to the mission of the Council in advocating for the disability community.”
Developmental Disabilities Council Director Eric Munson issued the following statement:
“There are more than 125,000 Arkansans with developmental disabilities. DFA has the structural capacity to assist the Council in administering a federal grant program like ours. I look forward to working with them to make sure that we are responsible and accountable with the federal funds we receive while being in compliance with the guidelines of the DD Act.”
The problems predate Munson, a lobbyist and Republican hanger-on with powerful political connections through his wife’s family who landed the political patronage job in May, including a huge increase in pay. Munson has been too busy fixing things to return my calls about the appointment, for which he had no past experience. Previously, the Health Services Permit Agency was the coordinating agency for the Council. Former Sen. Tracy Steele recently landed leadership of that agency as a payback from the governor for being a rare black person to support his gubernatorial campaign. He’d had a rocky time as leader of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. UPDATE: A spokesman for the governor said the switch wasn’t a reflection on Steele or his agency.
The Governor has the utmost confidence in Tracy Steele. Tracy continues to work toward improving efficiencies at HSPA in an effort to make government more accountable moving forward.
The Feds letter dealt specifically with the grant process at DDC, and since DFA has more experience with grants – and overall better resources than HSPA – this move made the most sense.
It says the Council has
“ongoing, systemic compliance issues and other problems in programmatic and fiscal operations including: governance, fiscal management, use of federal dollars, federal reporting, state plan implementation, monitoring of Council activities, membership, accommodations for individuals with developmental disabilities, orientation and training for DD Council members, and orientation and training for DD Council staff. In addition, AIDD is concerned about the Council’s ability to independently and proactively determine the necessary strategies and activities to effectively address the issues. …. AIDD is concerned that the staffing level is not adequate to sufficiently implement activities to address the issues and move the Arkansas Council closer towards full compliance.
So, still another place where the governor appears to need to find some additional money to run the state according to federal wishes. The feds have placed special conditions — amounts not yet specified — on past and future federal grants.
It re-established a governing structure and sets out membership rules for the 23-member governing council.
The agency serves people with disabilities by funneling about $1 million a year in grant money to other agencies.