As the merge of the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Department of Human Services draws nearer, the new Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is wrapping up their final preparations for the July 1st merger.
According to Joe Dougherty, Communications Director for the new DHHS, most of the remaining work includes intradepartmental work to solidify the operational efficiency so the department is “legally and fully operational,” by the merger date, based off of the DHHS Transition Plan.
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The department is currently nearing the end of the “Implementation” phase. Dougherty said leadership is still working on finalizing the new department website, finalizing the new employees intranet, and ensuring that all accounts and payroll are under one department.
Throughout the transition, stakeholder engagement has been a central piece to help with the transition and improve upon the two previously separated departments. This was done through virtual Q&As, stakeholder engagement through 33 consolidation workgroups, and presentations to the legislature and governor.
Dougherty said stakeholder input is still important to the success of DHHS. Department leadership will continue to work with stakeholders to create a new joint mission and shape the future of the operational effectiveness of the department.
The departments will also continue informing their staff about how each new operational unit—laid out in DHHS’s organizational chart—fits into the big picture. Dougherty said the department has “DHHS 101” videos that are shared with staff each week to accomplish this goal.
However, the official merger date does not finalize the entire merger process. The Transition Plan lays out plans for tasks to complete after July 1st.
“Having prioritized the essential items that must be in place to legally become DHHS by July 1st, 2022, and not have a disruption of services, we acknowledge there will be multiyear tasks that will need to be addressed after July 1st,” the transition plan stated. “Some tasks we are purposefully waiting until after joint operations commence. These include addressing state financial reporting and system updates, and monitoring operations, customer experiences, technology, and data needs to inform decision making.”
One of the biggest projects in this multiyear process includes the full development of a combined IT system. The two departments will need to merge the systems, merge trainings, and align databases.
Other projects include physical building organization and signage, employee culture and training, and performance metrics of the new department.