AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov. Paul LePage on Friday appointed a long-time manager within the Department of Health and Human Services to serve as interim commissioner.

Ricker Hamilton will run the department following the departure of Mary Mayhew, who served as commissioner of the state’s largest agency since the early days of LePage’s tenure.

“I am pleased to appoint Ricker as acting commissioner of DHHS,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “He has been actively involved in reforming welfare, improving services for the truly needy and bringing fiscal responsibility and accountability to a department that was plagued by massive shortfalls under previous administrations. Ricker will provide a wealth of experience and a steady hand to guide DHHS as the department continues to improve and reform the programs that are vital to so many Mainers.”

Hamilton has served as deputy commissioner of programs for DHHS since 2013. In that role, he has often represented the department at legislative hearings related to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta and a proposed forensic unit in Bangor, which the administration has proposed building as part of an effort to regain federal certification for the state psychiatric hospital.

LePage also announced Friday that Alec Porteous would become DHHS’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Porteous joined the LePage administration in 2014 and formerly served as deputy commissioner of finance. Porteous replaces Sam Adolphsen, who left as the agency’s chief operating officer in March to take a job with Rockwood Solutions, a New Hampshire-based conservative consulting firm.

LePage was required by law to appoint as interim commissioner a current employee of DHHS. His nomination to succeed Mayhew on a full-time basis would require consideration by a legislative committee and confirmation by the Maine Senate.