Director of the Department of Human Resources: Who Is Richard Gillihan?

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Director Richard Gillihan

Governor Jerry Brown didn’t have to go far to find a new director for the Department of Human Resources (CalHR). Career public servant Richard Gillihan has been the acting director since Julie Chapman stepped down in February.

Gillihan, 46, received a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Phoenix and worked as an independent information technology consultant from 1991 to 1994.  

His first government job was at the former California Department of the Youth Authority. Gillihan served in a number of positions between 1994 and 2002, including data processing manager in its Information Technology (IT) Office, associate programmer analyst at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility, programmer II at the Preston Youth Correctional Facility and programmer I in the Training Services Division.

The agency was absorbed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in 2005 during a government reorganization under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After leaving the Youth Authority in 2002, Gillihan went to work for the California Department of Finance. He initially worked on IT project review, had oversight of a large portfolio of high-risk IT projects and helped shape statewide IT policy.

In 2010, Gillihan moved to the Finance Department’s budget line as assistant program manager for Employee Compensation, Pension Systems, and IT Operations and Consulting.

Two years later, he was named program budget manager for administration with wide-ranging responsibility for employee compensation, pension and health care adjustments. Gillihan also had budget oversight for CalHR, the State Personnel Board, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the California Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), the Department of Technology and the Financial Information System for California Project.

Gillihan had that job when Brown appointed him acting director at CalHR almost to the day that the independent Little Hoover Commission released a scathing report (pdf) about the agency. The report said a Brown administration reorganization of the government in 2012, just as Gillihan’s predecessor, Chapman, was appointed acting director, was not effectively implemented.

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 the agency’s 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.”

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.

Gillihan’s appointment requires Senate approval. The salary $167,004. Gillihan is registered without party preference.

–Ken Broder


Richard Gillihan (California Public Employees’ Retirement System)

Governor Brown Announces Appointments (Office of the Governor)

CalHR Director Retires as Negative Little Hoover Commission Report Is Released (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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