New leaders at Public Aid, Human Rights are given task of reforming state agencies, serving the people of Illinois
Maram brings senior-level experience in state government to new position
CHICAGO – Two new department directors will be given the task of carrying out Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s efforts to reform state government and bring about a new way of doing business within the state offices they will lead.
The pair of new department leaders was announced Tuesday afternoon by Blagojevich. They include Barry S. Maram, an attorney with vast experience in the issue of health care financing who also has prior service in senior management positions within state government under a Republican governor. Maram will lead the Department of Public Aid.
The governor also announced the appointment of Rocco Claps as director of the Department of Human Rights. Claps brings to his position experience in state, county and federal government.
“In these individuals, I have found people who are exceptionally well-qualified for their assignments and who have a tremendous commitment to serving the people of this state,” Blagojevich said.
“Barry Maram and Rocco Claps will also be essential members of a team that will bring about real change to Illinois. They share my belief that renewing people’s faith in their leaders begins with bringing real reform to state government,” he said.
In addition to announcing the appointments of Maram and Claps, Blagojevich announced another cabinet-level appointment on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the governor named Ernesto Velasco to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections. Velasco will be the first Latino to serve in the post.
The two additional appointments include:
Rocco Claps – Department of Human Rights:
Since 1999, Claps has served as deputy assessor for Cook County. In that role, he has managed all policy initiatives for the assessor’s office, and oversees workflow and personnel decisions within the office. During the Clinton administration, Claps held a variety of positions, including a key post within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As director of scheduling and advance for then-Secretary Donna E. Shalala, he helped restructure the secretary’s office and helped coordinate the secretary’s interactions with the heads of the divisions within HHS. In 1996, he was chief of staff for the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
From 1987 to 1992, he worked for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, where he worked with lawmakers to develop legislation.
Claps is a 1983 graduate of Illinois State University.
Barry S. Maram – Department of Public Aid:
As a lawyer and a veteran of Illinois government, Maram has extensive background in healthcare financing and various policy issues affecting the state.
Maram served in senior state positions under then-Gov. James Thompson. In 1985, he was associate director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Director of the Office of Health Finance, where he coordinated and directed state health care issues including reimbursement and other matters affecting hospitals, nursing homes and other health institutions.
From 1986 to 1989, Maram served as Executive Director of the Illinois Health Facilities Authority, which serves as the state’s central financing agency on behalf of health care institutions. There, Maram directed and coordinated all business and administrative activities of the authority.
He is an attorney at the law firm of Foley & Lardner, where he serves as Special Counsel practicing Health Care law. He also serves as an adjunct professor at IIT-Kent College of Law, where he received his law degree in 1971.
Maram holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and, in 1985, he received his M.A. from the University of Chicago focusing in public policy.
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Blagojevich said that the department leaders will be assigned to help the state carry out some of its most important functions while recognizing that, in a period of a historic fiscal crisis, the agency leaders will have to develop innovative approaches to serving the public.
“This is a period when each and every department director will need to focus on serving the public while also carefully safeguarding the taxpayers’ dollars,” he said.
Blagojevich cited the individuals’ talents and expertise as key factors in their selections, as well as their willingness to help him change the way Springfield operates.
“I have selected Mr. Maram, Mr. Claps and Mr. Velasco because I am confident that they will combine their impressive backgrounds in their respective fields with a fresh approach to doing business,” he said.
Blagojevich said that he will call upon the new directors to “echo my message of reform to all the people working in their departments,” he said.
“For each of them, job number one is to put all employees on notice that that this administration is committed to bringing about dramatic change to the state government, and that we expect every state employee to share our dedication to reform,” Blagojevich said.
Underscoring the new governor’s commitment to reforming state government and addressing the state’s deficit, Blagojevich has-- within his first three week’s in office-- taken substantive action aimed at restoring people’s faith in their leaders and imposing greater discipline on state spending.
Blagojevich terminated the employment of more than 60 individuals holding positions that were filled in the closing weeks of the previous administration.
Since taking office, the new governor has taken other steps aimed at dramatically reforming state government. Previously, he called for the strengthening ethics training and investigations within state government, he froze the ability of agency heads to acquire new cars or pad the state payroll, and called for a thorough review of all projects funded through members’ initiatives.