Contrary to popular report, Jeffrey Zients is not leaving the Office of Management and Budget for a top job in the Commerce Department, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
“Jeff is staying here,” the OMB representative, Moira Mack, said in an email. President Obama asked Zients, she said, “to take a hard look at how we can better organize federal programs and functions to boost our nation’s competitiveness and that is where he is focused.”
Zients has been OMB’s deputy director for management since mid-2009, and also carries the title of federal chief performance officer. But his name has lately hit the grapevine as a possible successor to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who is leaving for a gig as ambassador to China. The Commerce Department is already without a permanent number two; Deputy Secretary Dennis Hightower resigned last summer and has not yet been replaced.
Along with his regular duties, Zients is helping to oversee a government reorganization announced by Obama in January aimed at furthering American economic competitiveness.