Kurt Knickrehm

Director

Arkansas Department of Human Services

Little Rock


Kurt Knickrehm

In January 1999, Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed Kurt Knickrehm to direct the largest state agency, with its more than 7,500 employees spread across all 75 counties.

Prepared for the job through a background in health care and finance, then six months as the agency's deputy director, Knickrehm says he hopes to "bring a different perspective" to the agency. With 10 major divisions and five support offices, he says there is not a lot of integration, leading to duplication of services in some areas. He says he wants to bring a more business-like planning process to the expansive agency.

Knickrehm, 36, noted that among its other missions, DHS functions as an insurance agency and a day-care. The agency, with an annual budget of more than $2 million people, "does a lot of good things for a lot of people," he says.

He served as senior vice president and later president of Coastal Physician Services and was chief executive officer of Tenet Physician Services' central States Office until coming to the work at DHS in 1998.

At DHS, Knickrehm says, "I hope to help push it into looking at things more from a client perspective than a program perspective."

Moving into the future, he wants the agency to focus more on those it serves and the technology that could make that work easier. "Right now, we're very paper-oriented and program-oriented," Knickrehm says."