CalHR Director Retires as Negative Little Hoover Commission Report Is Released

Friday, February 28, 2014
Julie Chapman

The retirement of California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) Director Julie Chapman, 55, was hastily announced Thursday by her boss, on the same day the independent Little Hoover Commission released a scathing report (pdf) on the agency. Chapman is leaving today.

Government Operations Agency (GOA) Secretary Marybel Batjer didn’t mention the report at a press conference and the Sacramento Bee said a press spokesperson declined to elaborate on a connection between it and Chapman’s exit. Chief Deputy Director Howard Schwartz will move to another civil service position.

Department of Finance Program Budget Manager Richard Gillihan is the new CalHR  acting director and CalHR Labor Relations Deputy Director Pam Manwiller is acting chief deputy.

The newly-configured CalHR and its newly-created GOA parent were focal points of Governor Jerry Brown’s major restructuring of the executive branch of government. Implementation began in 2012, just as Chapman took over the department.

Chapman was chief deputy director at the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA), before being named acting director under strange circumstances. She was prematurely outed as the future director of the proposed CalHR by DPA Director Ron Yank in February 2012. Yank sent out a memo announcing Chapman would replace him as director while the reorganization plan that would rename the department as CalHR was still in the works.  

Yank crowed about his successor. “I want to tell you that it will be the friend, sidekick, and mentor of many at DPA who will replace me—Julie Chapman. Julie has been my choice (and after discussions with him, that of Marty Morgenstern) ever since March of last year. I asked her to take the gig last August or September. I know she will be a great Director of DPA (and, within months, of Cal HR). I know she will continue the direction and efforts of this Administration.”

The Bee said the internal email had not been cleared by the administration and it was five months before “acting” was removed from Chapman’s title.

The reorganization brought together in CalHR many of the state’s existing personnel operations which, in the commission’s words, were “bifurcated and dysfunctional.” Among its tasks was a simplification of the state’s 3,800 job classifications.

The report said that the form of the reorganization had been properly implemented, but not much else. “While the physical logistics of the reorganization have been successful, the service improvements and big-picture changes that represent the plan’s promise of reinvention remain unfinished.”

Those “changes” include revamping the state’s hiring system. The commission, which was a prime mover behind the reorganization, recommended, among other things, that priority treatment of employees who had earlier been laid off and those transferring between departments be revisited to avoid “crowding out” more qualified applicants.

In addition to managing the state’s personnel functions, the department is the governor’s representative in collective bargaining with unions; sets salaries and benefits for employees excluded from collective bargaining and employees exempted from civil service; administers the employees’ Savings Plus Program; and provides legal representation to state agencies in labor relations.

While not mentioning Chapman by name, the letter (pdf) from Commission Chairman Jonathan Shapiro accompanying the report said, “The commission found that the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) leadership had not demonstrated the holistic skill set necessary to oversee widespread reforms.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California State Personnel Director, Deputy Exit Suddenly (by Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee)

From Hiring to Retiring: Strategies for Modernizing State Human Resources (Little Hoover Commission)

Director of the Department of Human Resources: Who Is Julie Chapman? (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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