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National search called off for new DCFS director

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014

* From February 27th

Gov. Pat Quinn is doing a national search for the next chief of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in the wake of the current director resigning after only a month on the job, the governor’s office said Thursday.

* Fast-forward to today. No more national search. Quinn has instead nominated his current interim director..

The interim director of the state’s Department of Children and Family Services, which has had four leaders in six months, on Tuesday received Gov. Pat Quinn’s nomination to continue heading the agency.

Bobbie M. Gregg, who has been the interim director since late February, must be confirmed by the state Senate. In the meantime, she’ll assume the title of acting director.

Quinn touted Gregg, a DCFS veteran who has also worked in county and federal government, as the right person to head the child welfare agency.

* From David Ormsby at the Illinois Observer

Quinn’s choice of Gregg is likely to be, however, a disappointment to lawmakers who sought national talent and to those who witnessed her dismal performance at recent legislative budget hearings.

“We’ve had a rotating door, unfortunately, in the last several months in this department. So it’s been hard for any leadership to gain traction,” said State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) when Gregg’s interim appointment was announced in February. “I would encourage the governor to look within the state and outside the state for a director who brings some innovation along with the experience”.

At recent House and Senate budget hearings, Gregg’s performance was panned for her lack of grasp of basic agency financial and operational details, according to accounts. Gregg fumbled for answers regarding recent cuts to the agency’s budget despite being spoon-fed questions by lawmakers. Legislators – Democrats and Republicans – were privately stunned by Gregg’s lack of preparation.

Word is that the governor’s office did interview other potential talented candidates, but political uncertainty over Quinn’s hold on office beyond January 2015 doomed the other candidacies.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 9:52 am:


    So much for those prior promises.

  2. - Walker - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 9:59 am:

    Key is David’s last sentence, if true.

    National search actually stymied by potential candidates’ uncertainty of Quinn staying in office.

  3. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    Oh lord.

    Well then - Bobbie?
    This is that BIG CAREER BREAK not everyone gets in life! GO FOR IT! We are all rooting for you to succeed!

  4. - carbaby - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 10:16 am:

    Who in their right mind would’ve considered leaving their job(and taking a pay cut) for a job that they may have only been able to have until January? The only people who would’ve taken that would be someone who was already retired or was going to retire.
    My thoughts are that yes they may have interviewed candidates because they had to but in reality, Bobbie was going to be the choice anyway. I said this as soon as she was named Interim.

  5. - Mokenavince - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 10:21 am:

    Just another Quinn blunder.

    Quinn now must know he will not be the next governor.

    Throwing in the towel before the fight starts is a first, even for Quinn.

  6. - Esteban - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    PQ can’t get out of his own way.

  7. - 100 Miles West - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    Mokenavince, the idea that you can find a person who will move to Illinois to take a job that may end in nine months is not possible. Even if Quinn were way ahead in the polls it would be difficult, if not impossible. This is the reality about replacing Hamos, or any other director, before the election. What qualified person would take the job?

  8. - A guy... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    A national search turns into an “agency” search. Again, you just can’t make this stuff up. Could’ve made a little hay saying “I’ll call Rauner and we’ll interview some finalists together”. How does anyone say no. Egads man.

  9. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    Finding quality agency directors is problematic not just because of the upcoming election but also because agency directors are saddled with political appointees who often are way out of their league. Look no further than DNR.

  10. - Goonhammer - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    And the revolving door of blunders continues. I guess he wants to save everyone he can before November. /shrug

  11. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    I don’t find this that shocking. I wouldn’t want to move to the state to take the job knowing it might only be short term. This was the easiest and quickest solution.

  12. - Out Here In The Middle - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    Seriously, people! With an election in a few months this is a time when people INSIDE the administration are weighing their options — not a time when qualified, competent outsiders are looking to come in. Not a surprise.

  13. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    ==agency directors are saddled with political appointees who often are way out of their league.==
    Key Q&A from Ms. Gregg’s interview with Gov. Quinn:
    Q: As an inept political appointee yourself, you know you’re supposed to keep your mouth shut about any other inept political appointees within DCFS, right?
    A: Yes, Governor.

  14. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    I presume the legislators don’t have to vote to confirm her if they are concerned about her competence.

    Quinn’s mistake was to announce a national search
    but I guess he was trying to distract us from the fiasco of his appointment of Arthur Bishop. Now he just looks silly–or desperate.

  15. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    Some seem to have missed the irony in using the term “shocking”.

    The blunder here was not calling off the “national search”. The blunder here was announcing a “national search” in the first place.

    The fact that he went ahead and appointed someone who recently turned in such an atrocious performance during budget hearings only adds insult to injury. As others have alluded to, this comes off looking not like a national search, not like a statewide search, not like a state-government wide search, but an intra-agency bump up the food chain.

  16. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    A DCFS veteran? She started DCFS in February of 2013.

  17. - A guy... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    Right now, that appears to be enough to be a veteran. lol

  18. - anon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    A tough spot to fill, granted, but this is not the answer. I am however not surprised. Acting Director Greeg seems like a nice person, she is not however qualified to be Director of DCFS. Ormsby is correct, I witnessed her testimony at both, she could not answer basic questions about the implications of the “not recommended cuts”. She was handed the answer by at least one legislator and she then agreed. I guess if the story that she is a law school classmate of Quinn’s, we now know what a national search entails. A cynical gesture by the Governor.

  19. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    He brought in his old law school buddy just over 1 year ago, and is now promoting her at the helm of DCFS to replace Arthur Bishop despite her performance during budgeting hearings?

    It wouldn’t make much difference at any agency other than DCFS or DNR right now, but the fact is this is DCFS and it is working through some major problems. The optics on a bad situation just got worse. Who advised him on this one?

  20. - The Watcher - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 3:42 pm:

    It’s hard to take Quinn seriously when it comes to DCFS. His nod to Bishop made it clear that leadership for this troubled agency is more about satisfying certain members of the General Assembly and not building an organization to protect children. Let’s see if leadership matters the next time there’s a round of headlines over a child death.

  21. - Walter Mitty - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 3:51 pm:

    Think of yeesterday’s story that made us sick… This is the group that takes the call to make sure our kids are safe…. The real discussion should be to make this a non political position. If you ever had to file a DCFS complaint, you would understand the need for change.There is a way to do this right. The reality is, how are we helping our kids if the best candidates know they are not selected and retained by performance? To the post: What a joke…. Rauner may consider saving some money on this election… PQ is buying it for him.

  22. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 4:12 pm:

    DCFS is no laughing matter. It’s a brutal, heartbreaking job.

  23. - Walter Mitty - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    And they deserve the best resources including leadership… No politics involved.

  24. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 6:52 pm:

    I’d never underestimate Quinn’s ability as a campaigner, but if this appointment implodes with a bad headline or two he’ll remind people of why he has some of the lowest approval ratings in the country. He can’t govern.

  25. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 8:06 pm:

    Dissapointing. Bobbie a nice enough person, but I really thought he would’ve found someone even better by now, given the myriad of challenges DCFS faces, rather than put it off until after the Election…!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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