The director of the state health department has left that post for a job at the state Department of Administration, both agencies confirmed Saturday.
Shelia Hogan was first appointed to lead the Department of Public Health and Human Services in 2016 by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Hogan had previously run the state DOA.
Erica Johnston, who is the chief operating officer and operations services branch manager, will serve as acting director of DPHHS, a department spokesman said Saturday.
During Hogan's tenure the health department managed the state's Medicaid expansion program that extends coverage to nearly 85,000. The agency also faced record-high numbers of children entering foster care before Hogan was appointed. That was something Hogan tried to combat with the First Years Initiative aimed at intervening early in pregnancy and a child's life to work with parents to reduce abuse and neglect.
Over the last nine months under Hogan, the department has helped manage the state's response to the novel coronavirus.
The health department is the largest state agency, making up about 42% of the state budget with an annual appropriation of $4.3 billion from federal, state and special revenue.
Hogan sent out an email to DPHHS employees Friday thanking them for their work.
"When I assumed my position as director, I wanted to ensure we made the best investments with our funding to make significant progress in our support of Montanans," Hogan wrote. "I focused on increasing accountability within the department and working more closely with our stakeholders to promote transparency about the work we do."
At the DOA, Hogan will be the Health Care and Benefits Division administrator.
"She brings numerous years of health care experience to this role including her most recent role as the director of DPHHS and her direct experience with the state’s employee benefits plan while as the director of Department of Administration for four years," DOA administrator John Lewis wrote in an email to employees last week.
Hogan will start her new job Monday. She replaces Amy Jenks, who was the interim administrator for several months.
Bullock, a Democrat, is termed out of office when this year ends. The incoming Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte, a Republican, is expected to appoint new agency heads as he takes office. On Friday Gianforte's transition team announced a website where people could submit their resume and express interest in seeking jobs within the administration, including agency heads.
“To address the serious challenges we face, we need good people to step up and help build a better Montana for all Montanans,” Gianforte said in an emailed statement. “If you want to help lead Montana’s comeback, change how Helena does business, and enact the mandate Montanans gave us, I’m asking you to serve Montana.”
Hogan's new position is a tier of state employees that do not change with a change in the governor administration and are not appointed but hired through a normal competitive hiring process.
Hogan's hourly wage at DPHHS was $54.30 an hour, or roughly $112,900 annually. Her new wage was not immediately available.