Bush nominates new OMB director

President Bush on Thursday announced plans to nominate one of the White House's deputy chiefs of staff to be the next Office of Management and Budget director.

Joshua Bolten, who has been deputy chief of staff for policy, would replace Mitch Daniels, who is leaving OMB on June 6 to return to his home state of Indiana, possibly for a gubernatorial campaign.

"I'm especially honored to be considered to succeed Director Daniels, a good friend whom I admire," Bolten said after being introduced by President Bush at a White House ceremony. "Among many strengths, Mitch has never forgotten that the M in OMB stands for management. Mitch has brought to the entire federal government [a] focus on accountability for results, and he's understood that the right question is not, how much can we spend, but, how well? Are we using the taxpayers' money wisely?"

Prior to his White House appointment, Bolten was policy director for the 2000 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. Before that, he worked for Goldman Sachs International in London for five years. Under the first President Bush, Bolten was general counsel at the U.S. Trade Representative and the White House's deputy assistant for legislative affairs.

If confirmed by the Senate as OMB director, Bolten will be responsible for the President's Management Agenda, a five-pronged strategy aimed at improving federal workforce management, increasing competition between federal workers and contractors, launching e-government projects, boosting financial management and making programs' performance a more important factor in the budget process.

The Senate is also considering the nomination of Clay Johnson to be OMB's deputy director for management. Johnson has been the White House's personnel director. The previous deputy director for management, Mark Everson, recently became IRS commissioner.

Johnson's nomination has been held up by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., over concerns about the job competition portion of the President's Management Agenda. Byrd does not support administration plans to put 425,000 federal jobs up for competition with the private sector.

Also vacant is the deputy director position, which was held by Nancy Dorn. Dorn recently took a job with General Electric after a little over a year at OMB.

If the Senate does not act on Johnson or Bolten's nominations before June 6, OMB could be left with its top three positions vacant in the middle of the fiscal 2004 appropriations debate in Congress.

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