There’s been no official announcement (to the best of FedLine’s knowledge, anyway), but the federal government now has a new top performance official, at least temporarily.
“Acting chief performance officer” was the title that Lisa Brown used in a Friday post on the Office of Management and Budget’s official blog. Brown, whose Obama administration assignments have hitherto included assistant to the president and staff secretary, helped assemble the White House’s blueprint for reorganization of federal trade and export agencies.
Until recently, the federal chief performance officer was Jeff Zients, who also served as OMB’s deputy director for management. But Zients moved up to acting OMB director on Jan. 27, after Jack Lew left the budget office to become White House chief of staff. Starting the first week in February, Zients then ask Brown to temporarily take over the chief performance officer’ s position, OMB spokeswoman Moira Mack said in an email. In that role, Brown will work on government reorganization efforts, “and coordinate implementation of the recommendations of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness,” Mack said.
For anyone curious about Brown’s background, she’s a Princeton grad and lawyer who worked in the Clinton administration and later served as executive director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, a legal organization sometimes described as the liberal counterpart to the conservative Federalist Society. “Former colleagues give Ms. Brown high marks for her organizational skills as well as her instincts for spotting problems,” The New York Times says in a thumbnail bio on its website. And here’s how Brown described the job of White House staff secretary two years ago.
Although the chief performance officer’s position is an Obama administration creation, it doesn’t appear to carry a formal job description. In general, though, the goal is to coordinate efforts to make government work better; the chief performance officer also chairs the inter-agency Performance Improvement Council, according to the administration.
While we’re on the subject of OMB, incidentally, speculation is afoot that the administration won’t bother with naming a permanent replacement for Lew before the November elections.
Among the reasons cited by knowledgeable observers: Zients showed he can handle the acting director’s job during a previous 2010 gig; potential applicants might be leery of taking the job with President Obama up for re-election this year; and the Senate confirmation process would give Republicans a highly visible opportunity to pick apart the administration’s budget strategy. And, of course, Lew hasn’t gone far; in fact, he was on just about all of the Sunday morning television talk shows the day before the release of the fiscal 2013 budget request last Monday.
“The President has not decided to send up a formal nomination,” OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer said in an email last week when asked about the possibility that Zients could be running the show for some time to come.
Updated Feb. 26 to include comments on Brown’s role from Moira Mack.