Former Howard County executive Elizabeth Bobo will not be out of government for long, despite her upset election loss last month.

The Democrat accepted an appointment Friday as deputy secretary for foster-care and child-abuse programs in Maryland's Department of Human Resources, according to department Secretary Carolyn W. Colvin.

Bobo is the second former county executive to find a home in the administration of Gov. William Donald Schaefer (D) since November's elections. Former Anne Arundel County executive James Lighthizer (D), who was prohibited by county law from serving a third consecutive term, was appointed the state's transportation secretary earlier this month.

Bobo will begin work Jan. 2, overseeing the department's wide range of social service, child welfare and support programs, Colvin said. The department has a budget of about $1.2 billion and employs about 7,400 people. As one of two deputy secretaries, Bobo will be paid more than $72,000 a year.

Colvin said she is aware that Bobo, 46, a lawyer by training, does not have extensive experience in social work. But "she showed a strong commitment to human resources as a county executive," Colvin said.

"As someone who is not an insider, I think she will bring a lot of innovation and creativity to the job . . . . She will see things with a fresh eye, and unlike someone who has been working on these problems for a long time, see other options for programs that might exist."

Bobo could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Columbia resident began looking for a position in state government after her election loss last month to retired school administrator Charles I. Ecker (R). Bobo received offers of at least four positions in Schaefer's administration, including director of the state's housing insurance program.

Bobo started her political career as a community activist and spent nine years on the County Council before being elected Maryland's first woman county executive in 1986.

"I doubt you've heard the last from her," commented one associate.