The State Worker

California state personnel director, deputy exit suddenly

Gov. Jerry Brown’s vision of a reorganized, more efficient government has stalled, according to a new state report issued Thursday, because of ineffective leadership at the California Department of Human Resources.

The unflattering assessment came one day after an internal CalHR email announced that Director Julie Chapman would retire, effective today, and that Chief Deputy Director Howard Schwartz is leaving for his former civil-service job.

Richard Gillihan, program budget manager at the Department of Finance, has been named CalHR’s acting director. Pam Manwiller, CalHR’s labor-relations deputy director, has been named acting chief deputy.

Marybel Batjer, who oversees CalHR as secretary of the state Government Operations Agency, issued a statement Thursday morning announcing the leadership change. Chapman “has had a long and rich career devoted to public service,” Batjer said. and Schwartz “has been a dedicated public servant to CalHR and all state employees.”

Government Operations spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill declined to comment on whether there is a connection between the leadership changes at CalHR and the Little Hoover Commission’s report.

“I’m not commenting beyond what’s in the press release,” Gledhill said.

Neither Chapman nor Schwartz could be reached for comment.

In a letter accompanying the report, Little Hoover Commission Chairman Jonathan Shapiro said that CalHR leadership hasn’t executed Brown’s 3-year-old plan to reinvent how state government goes about its personnel business. The department, which serves as Brown’s labor-relations and employee-management shop, was charged with changing the state’s culture by making it more nimble, less bureaucratically dense and more effective at recruiting and retaining employees.

But after three years, two of them under Chapman, CalHR still has no strategic plan for overhauling the government, still hasn’t streamlined many human resources functions and doesn’t have the means to measure reorganization progress.

“Users of CalHR’s services need to see more from the department’s leadership,” Shapiro wrote. “Those in the highest levels of management at the department need to have the broad skill set that is needed to effectively manage the array of services they provide.”

Chapman’s sudden exit marks the end of two-year tenure at the top of CalHR that started inauspiciously when her predecessor, former labor attorney Ronald Yank, also left abruptly. On his way out, Yank fired off an internal email announcing his departure to staff and saying that Chapman “has been my choice” to take over.

Yank, known for his independent style, didn’t clear the email with the Governor’s Office and created a minor stir with the announcement shortly before he stepped down at the end of February 2012.

Brown did name Chapman acting director, but he didn’t appoint her to the job permanently for five months. The delay fueled speculation that the administration tried to lure other candidates and settled on Chapman as a last resort.

Chapman, 55, is retiring from a state career that goes back to 1988, when she was an associate personnel services analyst for the Department of Housing and Community Services. She worked in labor relations at the Department of General Services and the Department of Mental Health before coming to the Department of Personnel Administration (now CalHR) in 2000 as a labor-relations officer. As CalHR director, Chapman ran a department with a $94 million budget and about 290 employees.

Schwartz has been a member of the California State Bar for 32 years. From late 2003 until 2011, he was a senior staff counsel with CalPERS, where he advised the fund’s Health Benefits Division. Brown appointed him CalHR’s chief deputy director in February 2011.

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