Donovan Welcomes What Senator Calls the Best and Worst Job in Government

Shaun Donovan testifies before the Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing to become the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Shaun Donovan testifies before the Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing to become the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Susan Walsh/AP

The next likely head of the Office of Management and Budget promised to lead federal agencies with data-driven performance metrics, at a nomination hearing Wednesday.

Shaun Donovan, currently the secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Department and nominated last month by President Obama to be the next OMB director, trumpeted his ability to get results at HUD, and told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee he would bring that management success to his oversight of all of government.

Several senators noted management is often the forgotten element of OMB, but Donovan promised to connect the “M” and the “B” by delivering results in the most cost-effective way possible. He also vowed to deliver on the management agenda outlined in Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal, emphasizing the need to use data and metrics to ensure the smooth functioning of government.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the committee’s ranking member, said too many government programs have no measures of success. “We don’t know what we’re doing,” he said.

Donovan agreed, and said the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act is helping to assuage those concerns.

“This is not an area that some people find interesting,” Donovan said. “I’m not only interested in it, I’m passionate about it.”

Donovan also spoke of the need to develop and diversify the federal workforce.

The Obama administration “is working to unlock the potential of the federal workforce and build the workforce we need for tomorrow by investing in training and ensuring agencies can hire the best talent from all segments of society,” Donovan said.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a former OMB director under President George W. Bush, told Donovan he will, once confirmed, have the “worst job in government, but also the best job in government.”

Donovan said he was well versed in the ups and downs of public service.

“I don’t necessarily like my job every day,” he said, “but I love my job every day.”

Senators from both parties offered mostly praise for Donovan, noting he was all but certain to be confirmed. Donovan would replace Sylvia Mathews Burwell, confirmed last week to be the next secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. 

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