Departures Leave Gap in OMB Management Team

Former acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients Former acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients J. Scott Applewhite/AP File Photo

Jeffrey Zients, the management consultant who spent four years as the Obama White House’s chief performance officer, left the Office of Management and Budget on May 1, an OMB official confirmed.

Zients had served as acting budget director since the January 2012 promotion of Jack Lew (now Treasury Secretary) as President Obama’s chief of staff. Zients stayed on through the April confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell for OMB’s top job.

Obama in March said Zients, as deputy budget director for management, had “made our government more efficient. He's saved taxpayers a lot of money. He’s stepped in as acting director of OMB not once, but twice, including leading up to the fiscal cliff. So there’s no question that Jeff’s skill and versatility have served the American people very well. I expect it will continue to serve us well in the future.”

Zients’s departure, reported first by Federal News Radio, was followed on Friday by the departure of Shelley Metzenbaum, OMB’s associate director for performance and personnel management. She returned to Boston, where she previously served in state government and where her husband, Steven Kelman, a onetime administrator of OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy, is a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Metzenbaum’s position is being filled on an acting basis by Dustin Brown.

Obama’s nominee for deputy budget director, Brian Deese, awaits Senate confirmation.

Zients led the White House management reform agenda, issuing directives in such areas as reducing wasteful spending and urging agencies’ procurement staff to embrace strategic sourcing. He was instrumental in the administration’s ongoing bid to reorganize government to curb agency duplication by asking Congress for renewed consolidation authority.

Metzenbaum led OMB’s coordination of improvements to the website Performance.gov and tracking of progress on 14 cross-agency priority goals as well as 103 agency priority goals set in compliance with the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act.

"I am still sorting out specific next steps, but will continue working to help government agencies deliver more mission for the money by finding what works and fixing what doesn’t -- ultimately leading to better outcomes and higher returns on investment,” Metzenbaum said in an e-mail to Government Executive. “Also, building on Performance.gov, I want to continue making it easier for the public to appreciate the great things government does, the intelligence it applies, and the difference it makes. We learned a lot over the past four years, and I want to share those lessons and spread adoption of the most effective practices.”

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