By Associated Press - Friday, December 13, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov Tim Walz said Friday that his administration will hire outside experts to make recommendations on whether to restructure the state’s troubled Department of Human Services.

The governor’s office said it’s engaging the company Public Sector Consultants to determine the scope for a third-party outside review of the agency by prospective consultants. That review will include specific recommendations for the future structure of the agency, including reorganization if necessary.

Walz said the state needs to “dig deeper to find the root” of the problems at the agency, the biggest in state government, which some lawmakers think is too large to manage effectively. Those problems in recent years have included turmoil in upper management, improper or inappropriate payments of over $100 million, child care fraud and weak internal controls.

“That is why we need an outside expert to take an independent look at DHS and recommend whether breaking up the agency would improve efficiency, increase accountability, and better serve Minnesotans,” the Democratic governor said.

GOP lawmakers said they were encouraged that Walz was seeking outside expertise to evaluate the best path forward, but that Republicans should get a seat at the table and a voice in the debate.

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