County Looks To Name Acting DSS Commissioner

OSWEGO, NY – With the impending retirement of DSS Commissioner Frances Lanigan just weeks away, county officials took steps Wednesday to ensure an administrator is in place while the search continues for a new commissioner.

The legislature’s Health Committee voted to recommend Gregg Hefner, the department’s director of services, to the full legislature as the interim commissioner.

“With the retirement in the near future of the (DSS) commissioner, we need to go about the business of making sure that the Department of Social Services has a functioning administrator,” explained Jack Proud, committee chair.

Lanigan’s retirement takes affect June 17 and there is one legislature meeting prior to that, noted Phil Church, county administrator.

State Social Services Law requires that the county appoint an acting commissioner until someone is named as a permanent replacement, he said, adding that the law also dictates that it be someone from within the department currently.

The search for a new commissioner is already under way, Church said.

Lanigan announced her retirement in early April.

“He has done a good job since he’s been with us,” Church said of Hefner.

Hefner would have attended the meeting, but he had previously scheduled some vacation time for this week, Church noted.

“We discussed this move with Mr. Hefner and he appeared very, very willing and able to handle the responsibility,” Proud said. “He knows he’s taking on a heavy load.”

“This will be a very positive step for this department. It’s very critical, obviously in a large organization like this one that is very complex, to have a good transition plan,” Lanigan said. “I believe the team is ready to move forward with Mr. Hefner. I think this will be a very positive step for the department; it relieves a lot of anxiety for a lot of people. Uncertainty creates an atmosphere that isn’t productive.”