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Hutchinson names Mitch Rouse as Arkansas’ secretary of transformation

Attorney will take charge of Transformation on July 1 by Michael R. Wickline | June 21, 2022 at 7:12 a.m.
FILE - A view of the Arkansas State Capitol building, looking west.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed Mitch Rouse, chief legal counsel for the state Department of Transformation and Shared Services, as the department's secretary, Hutchinson announced Monday.

Besides serving as the department's chief legal counsel, Rouse also has served as director of the Office of State Procurement.

He will succeed Amy Fecher as the department's secretary, effective July 1.

"Mitch has shown his dedication to Arkansas, and I have full confidence that he will continue to lead the transformation efforts," Hutchinson said Monday in a news release.

"He has invaluable experience serving the state and will be a great fit as Secretary of Transformation and Shared Services," said the Republican governor, whose eight-year tenure as governor will end in January.

As director of the Office of State Procurement, Rouse oversaw the procurement of commodities and services for the state. As chief counsel at the Department of Transformation and Shared Services, he managed a staff of five attorneys and handled legal matters for all divisions under the Department of Transformation and Shared Services.

The department includes the Office of the Secretary, the Arkansas Geographic Information Systems Office, the Division of Building Authority, the Division of Information Systems, the Employee Benefits Division, the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of State Procurement, according to its website.

Rouse's salary will be $172,094 as the department's secretary, Hutchinson spokeswoman Shealyn Sowers said Monday. That's the salary level Fecher would have received after a merit raise if she had continued as transformation secretary, she said.

Rouse's current salary is $140,189 a year and Fecher's current salary is $167,081, according to the Arkansas Transparency website.

Fecher has served as the department's secretary since July 2019.

Earlier this month, trustees for the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System voted to hire Fecher as its executive director, starting July 1.

As the system's executive director, Rouse will be paid a starting salary of $165,396 a year -- the same salary paid to former system Executive Director Duncan Baird, who departed in April to take a job at Walmart. The system is state government's second-largest retirement benefit with more than $10 billion in investments and more than 75,000 working and retired members.

In the governor's office news release, Rouse said he is honored to be appointed by Hutchinson as the department's secretary.

"Hard work has afforded me this opportunity, and I look forward to leading this department with energy and integrity."

Before joining the Department of Transformation and Shared Services, Rouse was the chief of staff and associate director of the Office of Air Quality at what was formerly called the Department of Environmental Quality. He also served as a federal law clerk for the Honorable D.P. Marshall Jr. in the Eastern District of Arkansas.

He graduated magna cum laude from Arkansas State University, where he received bachelor's degrees in English and philosophy. He received his law degree from the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he served as editor-in-chief of the UALR Law Review.

The state Department of Transformation and Shared Services is one of the state government's 15 executive branch departments. Hutchinson's reorganization of executive branch agencies cut their ranks from 42 to 15, starting in July 2019, under Act 910.

Hutchinson's reorganization in 2019 represented the most sweeping overhaul of state government since 1971 when then-Gov. Dale Bumpers, a Democrat, led an initiative to meld 60 agencies into 13 departments under Act 38 of that year.

Print Headline: Rouse to head up department


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