Two massive consultants bid to take the measure of West Virginia’s well being company

Two national consulting companies have applied to head up a top-to-bottom review of West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources.

West Virginia received applications for that job from McChrystal Group, named for the former US Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and DHG Healthcare, a subsidiary of Dixon Hughes Goodman.

They were responding to a request by West Virginia’s state government for a comprehensive organization assessment and strategic plan. Each submitted detailed descriptions of how they propose to do that over the next few months. Financial estimates for how much that would cost were submitted in separate, sealed envelopes.

The search for outside expertise came about after a bipartisan coalition of state legislators passed a bill during the most recent regular session to divide the agency into the Department of Health and the Department of Human Resources. They said experience had taught them the state’s largest agency is just too unwieldy to get a handle on its operations or finances.

Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice vetoed the bill, saying a restructuring needs a longer, more careful examination.

“So I am vetoing this bill,” Justice announced then. “But I am also going to engage with national experts and industry leaders to coordinate and complete a top-to-bottom review of the DHHR, so that we may clearly identify its issues, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies.

“We will work to develop a plan to address any and all problems, which may very well require a full reorganization of the agency. But we will do so in an effective and efficient way, so we can make sure there is no lapse in any vital support or services for the West Virginians who rely on the DHHR.”

The two firms that applied each touted their expertise and track records to be able to handle that job over a 17-week period.

McChrystal Group, in its 66-page response, spotlighted the experience of its team along with similar work for big health organizations like the Virginia Department of Health and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

The firm proposed strategies such as designing a web-based survey instrument based on the agency’s operational structure, interviewing key stakeholders identified by DHHR as well as identifying and interviewing “network influencers,” people with outsize influence on the organization comparable to their role.

“This will require that DHHR not simply document each Bureau’s strategic initiatives; Rather DHHR leaders, with support of their partnering vendor, shall collectively review, discuss and align on how the Agency operates so those leaders can make an informed decision about DHHR’s future and then clarify the corresponding strategic plan,” McChrystal Group wrote.

“With more than 50 years of combined experience, our McChrystal Team is well qualified to support DHHR leaders as they turn this challenge into an opportunity.”

DHG Healthcare, in its 32-page submission, highlighted its national resources as well as its investment of local personnel.

“DHG Healthcare has deep experience assisting federal and state governments and complex health systems that are tackling the challenge of improving the health and well-being of some of the most underserved populations in our country,” the firm wrote.

“Additionally, we have a long history of providing services to West Virginia healthcare providers participating in various DHHR programs.”

DHG representatives described an initial organizational assessment followed by a deeper examination of the agency and then strategy for implementing a strategic plan.

DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch last month told legislators that he will support the review and its findings.

“I want to make it clear that regardless of what that recommendation is, I’m supportive,” he said. “I have no reason not to be. The whole idea is to improve the services to the State of West Virginia, to improve the services to the people of West Virginia.”

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