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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Governor's Appointment Marks New Chapter For Oregon Agency

Oregon Department of Transportation
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has appointed Clyde Saiki as dIrector of the Department of Human Services.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has appointed a director for the state's largest agency. The Democrat is choosing Clyde Saiki to take the helm at the Department of Human Services.

Saiki was first appointed to the role on an interim basis last November. That initial appointment came just after the agency came under scrutiny from media and lawmakers for failing to adequately supervise children in the state's foster care system.

Money that the state paid to foster care providers was in some cases being used on things that didn't directly benefit children. There were accusations of neglect, children living in substandard and in some cases unhealthy conditions, all being paid for, subsidized by taxpayer money. So the accountability is not simply just getting taxpayers the best value for their money, but also making sure the children in the foster care system were safe and provided for in a healthy way.

Saiki's appointment must still be confirmed by the Oregon Senate.

DHS is the largest state agency when measured by both the number of employees and the amount of state tax dollars budgeted. Lawmakers approved a $2.7 billion general fund budget for the current budget cycle. The agency has nearly 8,000 full-time positions.