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Parnell underway with transition process

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2010

Gov. Sean Parnell, having convincingly won election to the governorship he moved into by accident last year, is doing something new now that he has an election behind him that he didn't do then: asking the state's top executives to submit resignation letters.

Parnell said Wednesday that he will transition from the administration that he assumed from former Gov. Sarah Palin to one of his own.

That will start by requesting resignation from the states 13 commissioners, its top administrators, as well as deputy commissioners and division directors, and asking them to submit letters of interest if they'd like to stay on.

"Some of those people will be rehired, some will not," he said.

Administration officials said they did not know how many resignations would be sought.

One commissioner, Denby Lloyd at the Department of Fish & Game, has already announced his intent to resign. Parnell said none of the others have told him they intend to leave, but that some had originally made a commitment only for four years and may be intending to leave.

Requesting resignations from previous gubernatorial appointments is standard practice, Parnell said.

Still, he said he wouldn't be going through the process if he didn't anticipate some changes.

The last transition, from former Gov. Frank Murkowski to Palin, was from a Republican to a Republican administration, but only a single commissioner was retained. The Palin-Murkowski relationship was acrimonious, however.

Parnell commended the state's current leadership team, but said he wanted to go forward with people of his own choosing, even if they were the same people currently doing the jobs.

"I'm going to go through an evaluation process for each," he said.

Parnell also announced the beginning of the formal transition process, which typically involves extensive reviews of how state government operates. The new process will be done differently and will be focused on topic areas rather than looking at each department individually, he said.

The standard process tends to break departments into "silos," when most agencies interact regularly with each other.

The seven transition teams will focus on natural resources; health and education; infrastructure; science, technology and communications; financial services and business investment; public safety and justice; and the military, he said.

Parnell named as his transition director Bryan Butcher, director of governmental relations and public affairs at the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

He also announced a new transition website at which comments about administrative agencies would be sought.

"This is an opportunity for community input," Parnell said. "How can we improve the performance of state agencies on behalf of the public?"

Parnell said he'll be naming chairpeople and co-chairpeople of the transition teams in the next week. He expects them to meet, hold robust discussions, draft recommendations and release them to the public for review in the month of December.

Among the goals of his new term, he said, are to find ways to grow the state's economy, develop a "more competitive" tax scheme in order to fill the pipeline, develop funding for Alaska Performance Scholarships and tougher child pornography laws, while also working to restrain government spending, he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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