The Texas Lottery's enforcement division was restored this week and the role of a longtime agency official has been reduced in a shake-up that follows nearly a year of public scrutiny over security, ethics and the treatment of employees at the $3 billion agency.
Employees and lottery observers said Tuesday they were optimistic about the changes, hoping they can improve employee morale, security and public confidence in the agency.
"I have hopes and aspirations it will be a good deal, but it's just too early to tell," said an employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Everybody here is still waiting to see what happens."
The most recent change, announced to employees Monday, restored the enforcement division, which handles security and criminal and administrative lottery investigations, as a stand-alone entity that reports to the executive director.
In late 2004, the agency's security division was gutted and swallowed by the legal affairs division. Most of the division's 35 officers were fired in the reorganization, which critics said threatened the lottery's security and integrity.
Although the agency plans to look for a director to lead the enforcement division, lottery spokesman Bobby Heith said he didn't know if there were plans to replace any of the security jobs that were cut.
Gary Grief, deputy executive director who championed cutting the security division, saw some of his own duties reduced in the recent restructuring.
A few months ago, several divisions that once answered to Grief, including legal, government affairs and media relations, began reporting to acting executive director Anthony Sadberry, Heith said Tuesday.
The job duties of General Counsel Kim Kiplin also changed, with Assistant General Counsel Sarah Woelk playing a larger role in human resources, ethics, information technology and special projects, Heith said.
Permanent leader sought
The lottery's director of human resources, Diane Morris, submitted her resignation last month, but her departure appeared unrelated to the restructuring.
Sadberry, who ordered the changes, is serving as acting executive director while the agency looks for a permanent leader.
He replaced Grief, who acted as director after the resignation of Reagan Greer. Greer left last summer after he admitted approving several inflated Texas Lotto jackpot estimates.
Sadberry's changes were based on his observations of agency operations and the recommendations of an employee committee, Heith said.
"I think it was just something he felt like he wanted to do," Heith said. "I think we've responded just to the needs of this agency and how it could be run more efficiently."
State Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, who chairs the House committee that oversees the lottery, was not available for comment Tuesday.
His committee clerk, Milda Mora, said Flores was encouraged when he heard about the restructuring.
"He's pleased that they're responding at all, which is more than we've gotten from the other executive directors," Mora said. "At least he (Sadberry) is trying."
'We were kind of shocked'
Employees said they also were impressed, and a little surprised, by Sadberry's decisions.
"Honestly we were kind of shocked at the whole thing," said another employee who also spoke on condition of anonymity. "I think everybody is still hoping. They wish things would move faster, but I've heard a lot of people say he listens and he follows through with what he says."
Dawn Nettles, a frequent critic of the Texas Lottery, praised the restoration of the enforcement division.
"I think this reorganization is evidence that the TLC made a big mistake two years ago when they gutted their security force," Nettles said.
"The people of Texas deserve the very best, the most honest lottery in the nation, and we don't have it if we don't have the security," she said.