The Office of Chief Counsel consists of eight sections which provide extensive legal, investigative and hearing services to the Department.
The Office of Public Guardian unit is responsible for the care of incapacitated individuals who have become wards through an application process as mandated by statute. Applications may be presented to this office by any concerned citizen but most applications are submitted by medical professionals, long term care providers, other DHS units and family members. The unit gathers corroborating documents to support guardianship need, petitions the court and represents the Office of Public Guardian/State in court at the guardianship hearing. The unit is responsible for finding appropriate placement for the ward, ensuring the ward is in an atmosphere that best meets his/her needs.
The Fraud and Internal Affairs Section is responsible for investigating and referring for prosecution allegations of recipient fraud or intentional program violation in the public assistance programs administered by the Department of Human Services. These programs include Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), Medicaid, Child Care Assistance, Special Nutrition, and other programs. The section also investigates suspected trafficking of SNAP benefits by both recipients and retailers and alleged fraudulent billing by service providers (Child Care, etc.). The section assists OQA’s Audit Section and/or Department divisions with investigations of providers who contract with the Department of Human Services to serve a specific group of clients. The Internal Affairs unit of this section investigates allegations of employee misconduct.
The Appeals and Hearings Section provides administrative hearings for the appeal of adverse agency actions. Appeals may concern Child Maltreatment, SNAP, TEA, Medicaid, Fraud, Intentional Program Violations, Estate Recovery, Adult Protection and a variety of other areas.
The County Legal Operations Section provides statewide legal representation to the Department of Human Services in the areas of child welfare and adult protective services.
The Office of Employee Relations/Office of Equal Opportunity processes employee grievances and conducts mediations and administrative review hearings related to employee grievances and complaints. This office also ensures compliance with federal and state civil rights/anti-discrimination laws, regulations, methods of administration, executive orders, etc., and investigates client complaints of rude and discourteous treatment.
The General Counsel Section provides legal assistance and representation on administrative matters, litigation pertaining to delivery of services, program administration, personnel, civil rights and overpayment collections, as applicable, to all the various divisions of the Department.
The Management Assistance Section is the DHS primary point of contact for Freedom of Information Act requests. It also monitors agency promulgation of rules, provides fiscal planning and monitoring, logistics support and conducts special projects.
The Policy Section researches, writes, and revises DHS employee policies to comply with state and federal regulations. It is also responsible for updating the agency’s administrative procedures, promulgating agency-wide rules, and assisting employees with interpretation and application of agency policies.