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Contact: Tim Tardibono 271-1420

Regier Named Oklahoma Administrator of the Year

OKLAHOMA CITY—The Oklahoma Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) has named Jerry Regier as the 2001 Administrator of the Year in Oklahoma.  The award is given annually by the state chapter as a tribute to a public service practitioner whose career exhibits the highest standards of excellence, dedication and accomplishment.   

Regier currently serves as the Governor’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Human Services and as Acting Director for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.  In its award announcement, the Oklahoma Chapter of APSA noted:  “Mr. Regier is an administrator known for his service orientation, integrity, and organizational vision.  His widely publicized efforts to reinvent the scandal-ridden Health Department have achieved a renaissance for the agency.”

The award follows a year when Gov. Keating dispatched Regier from his post as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs to oversee the Oklahoma State Department of Health in the wake of a nursing home scandal that resulted in two federal bribery convictions. During his first few weeks in charge, Regier identified two primary goals: 1) To restore the effectiveness and integrity of the nursing home inspection and investigation process, and 2) To end destructive political patronage practices which had contributed to waste, fraud and inefficiency at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

After the nursing home scandal began to level off, a new scandal emerged known as the “ghost employee” scandal.  As the ghost employee investigation took shape, personnel irregularities were found showing that these employees were on the payroll without performing the duties hired for or falsifying time records, travel claims and other work related documents.  Of the ghost employees identified, several were former Democratic legislators or relatives of former Democratic legislators.  

As he set in motion processes that addressed improvements in the agency’s nursing home oversight and ended political patronage in its hiring practices, Regier joined the Board of Health and a team of dedicated executive management staff to set the agency back on its course of providing quality public health services to the people of Oklahoma.  They reorganized the agency, refocused their priorities and began developing an agency strategic action plan.  For the first time in agency history, the budget was directly linked to the agency’s top public health mission objectives.  Additionally, a historic joint meeting took place between the Board of Health and the boards of the Oklahoma and Tulsa City-County Health Departments.  As Acting Director, Regier made it a point to travel to local county health departments to observe operations and receive firsthand input from front-line staff.  This kind of openness and collaboration quickly endeared health department staff to support his management leadership.

In addition to his work as Acting Director of the State Health Department, Regier continued to serve as Gov. Keating’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Human Services.  In that capacity, he oversees 12 state agencies in addition to the State Health Department.  Those agencies include some of the largest state agencies that administer some of the most critical public services.  Among those agencies are:  the Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Office of Juvenile Affairs, the Commission on Children and Youth, and the Indian Affairs Commission. As Cabinet Secretary, Regier has spearheaded two of Gov. Keating’s most important initiatives aimed at strengthening families through reducing divorce and keeping our children safe and drug free in their schools and communities.  

Gov. Keating said, “Secretary Regier is very deserving of this award.  His work over the last year as Acting Director and Cabinet Secretary truly defines to the people of Oklahoma what an excellent public servant is.  Oklahomans should be proud of what he has done for our state, and especially for our most vulnerable citizens, our elderly.  The First Lady and I congratulate Jerry.”

One of the letters from State Health Department staff nominating Regier for the award said, “He has worked diligently to rebuild public confidence in the department and has done much to restore the faith of front line staff in the management of this organization.  These changes have been accomplished primarily due to the professional attitude and character possessed by Mr. Regier and his ability to project similar attitudes on department staff at all levels.”

Another letter from a health department representative stated, “He calmly and professionally went about an extremely difficult task of correcting many years of poor management and changing the department for a better future.  Secretary Regier did all this with extreme amounts of pressure from both inside and outside the Department.  The fact that he performed so well is also amazing because he knew his time with the Department was limited.  He was building a better future for others to carry on.  He planted the tree but others would eat the fruit.”

One of the letters from a former Office of Juvenile Affairs staff member nominating Secretary Regier for the award said, “Good administrators have to have skills in planning, organizing, directing, and controlling; they have to be leaders of others and masters of themselves.  Jerry Regier deserves this award not only for his skills, but also for his tireless dedication to duty and his faithfulness to the concept of service.  He taught me many things, and I was fortunate to have him for a boss.”

Nominations for the Administrator of the Year Award are solicited throughout the state.  Men and women in Oklahoma who work for federal, state, or local government, non-profit organizations, or institutions of higher education are eligible to be nominated for the award.

The American Society for Public Administration is a nationwide, non-profit education and professional organization.  It is the only organization of its kind in the United States aiming broadly to improve administration of public service at all levels of government and in all functional and program fields.  


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