With potential successor reportedly in the wings, Zients running OMB as deputy director


Jeff Zients is still in charge of the Office of Management and Budget, but it turns out that he quietly lost his “acting director” title four months ago. Under the Vacancies Reform Act, which generally limits acting gigs to 210 days (or about seven months), Zients’ tenure ended in September, OMB spokeswoman Jessica Santillo said in an email.

He then reverted to his previous job as OMB deputy director for management. Even so, Santillo said, Zients “continues to lead OMB and his authorities and responsibilities have not changed.” For what it’s worth, Zients’ profile on the White House blog still lists him as “acting director.”

Zients had taken over as acting director in January 2012 when Jack Lew left to become White House chief of staff. Under the Vacancies Reform Act, his term was extended into September because the Senate was not in session when it otherwise would have expired.

Following Lew’s departure, the Obama administration never nominated a permanent OMB chief. In part, observers speculated, that was because it didn’t want an election-year confirmation fight that would have drawn attention to politically charged budget issues, and in part because the White House was comfortable with Zients, who had done a previous tour as acting director in 2010.

Over the weekend, however, several outlets—citing unnamed sources–reported that  President Obama is likely to name Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who worked in the Clinton administration and now heads the Walmart Foundation, to the job. A White House spokeswoman did not respond to voicemail and email messages yesterday seeking confirmation.


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