The head of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is now one of those agency heads who could be removed from office by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
On Wednesday, the governor signed five agency accountability bills giving him the authority to hire and fire the leaders of the DOT, the Department of Corrections, the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs, the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Gov. Stitt called it a historic day for the state.
“With this legislation, we are ensuring Oklahoma’s government is truly accountable to the people of Oklahoma,” said the governor. “These reforms empower elected officials to deliver stronger oversight, better services and accountable leadership across the state’s five largest agencies and by maintaining governing boards, we will continue to ensure transparency in all agency operations.”
House Speaker Charles McCall supported the measures.
“Under our current structure, agency directors and boards are not accountable to anyone—certainly not to the governor or the taxpayers of Oklahoma,” he explained. “This historic agreement transforms our government in a way that delivers real accountability for Oklahoma’s citizens.”
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat agreed.
“The government accountability measures, in my opinion, are the most substantial reforms Republicans will achieve in my tenure at the Capitol. For too long, agencies have been unaccountable to the people of Oklahoma. that’s wrong and that is changing for the better.”
The agency accountability bills include the following provisions:
- The Governor will have the authority to hire and fire the agency leader.
- Senate will have confirmation authority of the agency leader.
- State agencies will maintain governing boards, but board members will serve at will and the legislation will include a conflict of interest provision.
- The Governor will appoint a majority of the board members, and the House and Senate will gain appointment seats on the boards.
- The House and Senate will be able to remove agency leaders by achieving a two-third vote in both Chambers.