The Department of Economic Security’s new director has no illusions about the challenges his agency faces as he prepares to take its helm.
Clarence Carter, whom Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday named director of DES, told agency staff members in an open letter that he strives to be “a spiritual man with a deep and abiding passion for serving the socially and economically vulnerable of our society,” and said it has been his “life’s work to make the systems intended to support those we serve function better.”
But Carter, head of Washington, D.C.’s Department of Human Services, warned of dark days ahead for the agency as economic and budget constraints force DES to deal simultaneously with a reduced budget and increased demand for the social services it provides.
“I wish I could promise that the dark clouds have passed, but I would be doing you a disservice,” he wrote. “While the national and Arizona economy have slowly begun to turn the corner, the effects of caseload increases and reduced resources will not abate any time soon.”
Brewer praised Carter, who served in President George W. Bush’s administration as executive officer of the Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp Program, as a veteran human services administrator with a strong background in “managing fiscal challenges” and budgetary planning. As director of Washington’s Department of Human Services, he oversaw about 960 employees and a budget of more than $350 million.
That background probably will serve him well as he takes over an agency that has suffered significant budget cuts in the past few years. DES’s budget dropped from $808 million at the start of the fiscal year 2009 to $546 million the following year. The agency’s current budget is about $678 million, and Brewer recommended a $688 million budget for DES in 2012.
Carter was still in Washington, D.C., at the time of the announcement and could not be reached for comment. He will begin work at DES on March 7.
Before his time at the Department of Agriculture, Carter served as director of the Federal Office of Community Services under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as the director of the Virginia Department of Social Services.
At the Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp Program, Carter led efforts to institute administrative efficiency for states, reduced payment errors in the program and administered emergency food stamp programs after Hurricane Katrina, according to the Governor’s Office.
Outgoing Director Neal Young, who took over the agency in 2009, will return to work for the city of Phoenix, where he served as assistant housing director before Brewer named him DES director.
Brewer on Wednesday also announced the addition of two new advisers to her administration. She named Rebecca Gau, vice president of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, as director of the Governor’s Office of Education Innovation, and Don Hughes, a lobbyist for the law firm Kutak Rock, as her special adviser for health care innovation.