Charged with protecting the air we breathe, water we drink, and health of our population, among a myriad of other important programs like nuclear facilities and controlled substance enforcement, DHEC commands a $600M federal and state budget, 3600 employees, and over 100 locations around the state.
In her first 18 months at DHEC, Director Templeton expanded healthcare services and access statewide, reduced the time it takes to get an environmental permit by 40%, and deregulated or reformed regulations that had been in place for decades. While creating these efficiencies and service enhancements, she cut the budget $68M, maintained all services during the federal government shutdown, operated under sequester, and did not request a dime from the South Carolina General Assembly.
Templeton has also fought against federal waste and abuse. She has refused to allow the U.S. Department of Energy to ignore its obligations to clean up high level hazardous waste at the Savannah River Site by holding the Obama Administration to a $150 Million penalty other officials have been reticent to enforce. Director Templeton also refused to take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars offered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for programs that were already responsibly and fully funded in South Carolina.
Templeton has directed public health efforts to the one issue that that kills the most South Carolinians, makes the most sick, and if prevented would save the state the most money in healthcare costs: Obesity. In September 2014, the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that South Carolina dropped from No. 7 to No. 10 in adult obesity.
Among other boards and committees, Director Templeton sits on the Homeland Security Advisory Council, the Governor’s Savannah River Committee, First Steps board, State Emergency Response Council, South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind board, the SC Health Care Coordinating Council Board of Directors, and the National Oceanic Council – representing Florida, Georgia, SC, and NC.
Templeton’s appointment to DHEC runs through 2016. (Courtesy: DHEC)