The Texas Senate confirmed Charles Smith's appointment on April 19 as the Health Human Services executive commissioner for a two-year term at the head of the state's largest agency.
Smith, a Childress native, oversees an agency of 53,000 employees that directly serves 7.5 million Texans every year and indirectly affects almost everyone in the state.
"I'm humbled by the trust Gov. Abbott placed in me when he asked me to fill this job," Smith said. "I appreciate the vote of confidence by the governor and the Texas Senate. I pledge to do everything that I can to make all Texans proud."
Smith has been in the head job since June 1 and has overseen the start of the system's transformation from five agencies to four, with another consolidation scheduled for Sept. 1 to create a three-agency system.
"It's important we be as efficient as possible," Smith said. "Transformation is an ongoing process that doesn't end because we've consolidated some agencies. It's a continual search to find better ways to serve Texans."
The HHS system oversees a range of programs, including Medicaid, SNAP food benefits and programs for Texans with disabilities. It's duties range from providing a social safety net for Texans in need to testing every baby born in the state for a variety of conditions; protecting abused children and adults; and regulating food and day care centers.
"I'm very proud of the work we do every day, and I'm looking forward to continuing to improve our services to the people of Texas," Smith said. "We're going to better integrate services to better help people while being strong stewards of taxpayer dollars."
Smith graduated from Texas Tech University and has served the state for 29 years, starting in the Attorney General's Office, where he rose to head the Child Support Division. He then came to HHS as chief deputy executive commissioner before Abbott named him to lead HHS.