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Gov. Tony Knowles picked a deputy commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services to head the agency when outgoing Commissioner Karen Perdue leaves in October.
Jay Livey will take the top post Oct. 9, one day after Perdue leaves after serving seven years. Perdue was hired by the University of Alaska to be chief adviser on health and social service issues.
Livey has been with the agency for 14 years and has been one of two deputy commissioners for the past 10 years.
Knowles said Livey "understands the agency inside and out," and has experience working with Rural Alaska. Livey held several posts with the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp. and has been planning director for Bethel.
Livey will oversee the second largest state agency with 2,400 employees and a budget of $1.2 billion. Health and Social Services oversees programs such as public health systems, juvenile justice and federal and state welfare programs.
"There is no department that has a higher responsibility and more affect on Alaska jobs and families than the Department of Health and Social Services," Knowles said.
As a Knowles appointee he will serve at least until Dec. 2, 2002, when the governor leaves office. Knowles has served two terms and cannot seek a third term.
Livey said his department will continue to work aggressively to administer programs such as new federal welfare reform rules. Federal rules allow people to receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for only five years. The first five-year deadline takes effect this year.
It is unclear how many families would be removed from the rolls, Livey said. But he said the department is working to find other state assistance to ease the transition.
"We have an agenda for the next 12, 13 to 14 months and we are going to finish that," Livey said.
The rules allow the state to provide an exemption to TANF rules for 20 percent of its caseload. Livey said a significant number of working poor Alaskans would be covered by that exemption.
As deputy commissioner, Livey has worked with division directors to manage the overall performance of Medicaid, welfare and public health divisions of the department.