Kyle Janek, executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, was awarded the 16th annual Bob Bullock Award for Outstanding Public Stewardship at the GTC Southwest conference on Tuesday, June 4, in Austin, Texas.
The Bob Bullock Award is presented each year to a Texas state executive or elected official for outstanding leadership, innovation and a career that demonstrates dedication to serving Texas citizens. Bob Bullock was a former Texas politician who during his career served as the state’s comptroller, lieutenant governor and secretary of state.
“[Bob Bullock] is a legend in Texas politics and he had a profound impact on the way policy is created and carried out,” Janek said. “It’s an honor to be thought of this way and receive an award named for such an iconic Texan.”
Janek was appointed Texas health and human services executive commissioner last September by Gov. Rick Perry. As head of the Health and Human Services Commission, he oversees five health and human services agencies, with more than 56,000 employees total and annual budgets of $30 billion, all while serving more than 4 million Texans, according to the commission.
Roughly a decade prior to taking his position as executive commissioner, Health and Human Services programs were distributed among various agencies and essentially siloed from Medicaid. After a major cross-agency consolidation, the programs were brought together under a single enterprise made up of multiple agencies and departments. As executive commissioner, Janek is tasked with overseeing the enterprise.
A practicing anesthesiologist since 1986, Janek's career in public service began when he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, where he took office in 1995 and served for eight years. He was elected to the Texas Senate in 2003 where he served for more than five years. According to Janek, since he was the only physician in Texas’ part-time Legislature at the time, he absorbed many health-care related duties, and served on the committee for public health. Janek remains a board-certified anesthesiologist today.
Janek said his experience in the medical field has helped shape the way he carries out operations in state government. Since he was formerly a Medicaid provider, he sees training and work experience from a provider’s perspective and understands how doctors think.
But by entering into government, he began to look at challenges from other angles and consider budgetary factors not solely from a medical perspective.
So what has been Janek’s strategy for success in the public sector?
Janek said he first ran for public office because he wanted to contribute his own ideas to government rather than hearing about decisions made after the fact.
“I was driven by the job and the opportunity to do things that actually had an impact when I was dissatisfied with the way government was performing,” Janek said. “So whether it was in the public sector or private sector, I enjoyed having a job that made a difference.”
AP Photo/Harry Cabluck