Slash and burn - that's what one critic called Catherine Templeton's management style when she took over the director's seat at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control in 2012.

She began cutting through personnel and entrenched agency practices, just as she had done as director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, a job she characterized as cleaning house.

Templeton, of Mount Pleasant, had a different take on it: "My job is to get the money to the program (staff), to get the citizens the services they need."

She is one of the highest-profile players in an administration that says it's trying to chop through state bureaucracy and regulations to create a more business-friendly environment. Piece by piece, she is restructuring an agency she said hadn't had a critical self-analysis in 30 years.

The way she does business continues to rile opponents and sometimes even supporters. But when crises blow up, she is out front taking the heat. That's what she did in August, apologizing to state legislators for a botched department investigation into a tuberculosis outbreak in Greenwood County.

She is pushing to split the cumbersome DHEC into two agencies to deal separately with public health and environmental regulation, something that has been sought for years, even by pro-regulation advocates.

BO PETERSEN

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