Arkansas Department Of Human Services Director John Selig Stepping Down

Oct 8, 2015

Governor Asa Hutchinson Department of Human Services Director John Selig at a legislative meeting earlier this year.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services John Selig announced on Wednesday he will resign at the end of the year. Selig served longer than anyone else at the helm of the state’s largest agency. 

The 55-year old was appointed director by Mike Huckabee in 2005, served through the Beebe administration and implementation of Medicaid expansion – known as the private option. In a statement Governor Asa Hutchinson said he asked Selig to stay on until the end of the year and praised his work.

"I asked if he would be willing to stay on through the end of the year. I am grateful that John agreed to help us through January 1, 2016,” said Hutchinson in a release. “I am personally appreciative of his leadership, friendship and wise counsel during a time of great change in the healthcare industry and during the first year of my administration."

Selig told DHS employees in an e-mail that big changes are soon coming to DHS and he thinks the timing is right to step down.

“It’s hard to leave, but I feel like the time is right. DHS may see some big changes next year, and I think that would be a good time for new leadership” said Selig in a DHS news release.

The agency manages a wide array of services such as child welfare, Medicaid, and mental health care. In recent months DHS has come under scrutiny, particularly from conservative lawmakers, for beleaguered IT contracts related to a halting Medicaid verification and eligibility system. The state Legislature is expected to propose significant reforms to Medicaid in December including new payment models, federal waivers, and departmental re-organization. 

The full statement from Governor Hutchinson’s office is below:

“Yesterday, Director Selig informed me that he wished to leave government service in order to spend some time in the private sector. I asked if he would be willing to stay on through the end of the year. I am grateful that John agreed to help us through January 1, 2016. John has given so much to the state of Arkansas through 25 years of service. I am personally appreciative of his leadership, friendship and wise counsel during a time of great change in the healthcare industry and during the first year of my administration."

DHS provided this statement:

Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Director John Selig told employees Thursday that he plans to leave his position at the end of the year. Selig, 55, began serving as director in 2005 under then Governor Mike Huckabee. He is the longest serving director at DHS and has worked for Arkansas state government for 27 years. All but two of those years have been with DHS.

“I have loved working at DHS because I truly feel it makes a real and positive difference in the lives of so many Arkansans,” Selig said. “It’s hard to leave, but I feel like the time is right. DHS may see some big changes next year, and I think that would be a good time for new leadership.”

Selig’s previous positions include serving as the State’s Director of Behavioral Health Services and Director of In-Home Health Services at the Arkansas Department of Health. He is a graduate of Stanford University and received a Master’s in Public Administration from Princeton University.

Prior to joining state government, John was on the staff of U.S. Senator David Pryor and served two years in the Peace Corps as a teacher in West Africa.