OMB management chief headed to NASA, White House says

President Bush will nominate his point man on federal management issues as the new administrator of NASA, the White House announced late Wednesday. Sean O'Keefe, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, will be nominated to replace NASA chief Daniel Goldin, the White House said. The position requires Senate confirmation. O'Keefe would bring a wealth of management experience to the space agency, which went through nearly 10 years of budget cuts and downsizing during the 1990s. Besides his work at OMB, O'Keefe served as Navy Secretary and Comptroller of the Defense Department in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, where he developed close ties to Vice President Dick Cheney. But O'Keefe's move to NASA would also deprive OMB of its lead figure on management at a time when the office is pushing President Bush's management agenda in agencies and on Capitol Hill. OMB introduced its "Freedom to Manage" legislative package in October, and the office unveiled a new scorecard for grading agency management earlier this month. Even without O'Keefe, the management agenda will still be a priority at OMB, said Amy Call, acting director of communications at OMB. "OMB will continue to aggressively push the President's management agenda, as it is one of the President's key initiatives," she said. Call would not comment on who would assume O'Keefe's duties within OMB. O'Keefe became the administration's de facto management chief while the White House searched for a deputy director for management at OMB, a position that remains unfilled. At least two candidates have declined to take the job, according to sources with knowledge of the search. O'Keefe's departure would be a "monumental loss" for OMB, said Carl DeMaio, director of government redesign at the Reason Public Policy Institute, a division of the Los-Angeles-based Reason Foundation. Paul Light, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, described the situation in the terms of OMB's new color-coded scorecard. "This one is a yellow light for OMB, and a bright green light for NASA." But DeMaio stressed the Bush management plan can survive without O'Keefe because it has the backing of President Bush and OMB Director Mitch Daniels. DeMaio and Light both agreed that OMB must move quickly to find a replacement. If O'Keefe is named NASA administrator, his legacy at OMB will include integrating management more closely with the budget, which is one of the administration's five government reform initiatives, said DeMaio. But O'Keefe did not spend enough time at OMB to have a significant impact, according to Light. "He had great potential, but like so many appointees did not stay long enough to leave an impression," said Light. Following his service as Navy Secretary, O'Keefe served as Louis A. Bantle professor of business and government policy at Syracuse's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. A presidential management intern in 1978, he is generally believed to have achieved the highest rank of any graduate of the Presidential Management Intern program.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.