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Shipbuilder Executive To Lead Washington Social Services Agency

Shawn Murphy

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A shipbuilding executive with no social work experience will head Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services. Governor-elect Jay Inslee announced that appointment and four other cabinet picks Thursday.

Inslee’s choice for DSHS Secretary is former Democratic State Senator Kevin Quigley. He’s far from an agency insider. In fact most recently he was a president with Vigor Industrial, a major shipbuilder. At one point Quigley ran the company’s Everett shipyard.

Governor-elect Inslee readily acknowledges that Quigley does not have experience in social work.

“What he’s had is the experience of empowering people like social workers to do their jobs and to design a process so that they have 100 percent quality," Inslee said. "We’ve got to have a zero-defects culture in DSHS.”

In recent years, Washington has paid out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits stemming from the abuse of children in the foster and child protection system. DSHS is a mega-agency with more than two million clients, 18,000 employees and an $11 billion, two-year budget.

Inslee also announced his appointments to run the Department of Labor and Industries, Employment Security, Retirement Systems and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

On the Web:

Washington Department of Social and Health Services

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."