By Denis C. Theriault
Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday announced a shakeup atop the state's Employment Department, replacing the agency's director just days after a state audit raised concerns about security lapses and tax troubles involving the department's aging computer systems.
Kay Erickson, the state's budget manager, will serve as the department's acting boss while Brown's office looks for a permanent hire. Erickson, whose appointment "is effective immediately," replaces Lisa Nisenfeld.
"Kay Erickson brings the experience of a key leader in the Department of Administrative Services and the perspective of a long-time state government veteran," Brown said in a statement. "Everyday, the Employment Department connects workers with the jobs that help their families and communities thrive. As our state grows and the needs of Oregonians evolve, Kay will help ensure the department stays focused on this essential service."
The agency was beset with questions about its computer systems -- including concerns the it wasted as much as $20 million -- before Nisenfeld won the job in 2013 and presided over a massive reorganization.
The most recent audit by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office, released in late December, said it found some of the same security problems it identified in audits in 2003 and 2012. In November, the department said its computer system had been hacked and that it had only learned about the breach through a tipster.
The new audit also said staffers stopped using a computer report that kept officials from noticing tax overpayments worth $850,000 in 2014 and potential underpayments approaching $3 million.
Since she was appointed governor in February, Brown has replaced several agency directors, either through dismissals or resignations, including the heads of the state's economic development, human services, administrative services and revenue departments.
(c)2016 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)