The Senate Wednesday evening confirmed the Trump administration's nominee for the top management position in government, approving her in a unanimous voice vote.
Margaret Weichert will serve as the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management, a key role for setting the president’s management and federal workforce agenda. During the Obama administration, the deputy director for management also took on the role as the nation’s chief performance officer. Weichert will oversee five offices in OMB: Performance and Personnel Management; Federal Financial Management; Federal Procurement Policy; E-Government and Information Technology; and Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Weichert has worked primarily for private industry, only coming to government when she joined OMB as a senior adviser earlier this year. During her confirmation hearing in December, Weichert conceded she still had a lot learn about the inner workings of the federal bureaucracy and her role as its top management official. She often punted with promises to learn and research various issues when lawmakers asked specific questions.
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The new deputy director during that hearing indicated she may push for a shift in the administration's strategy to reduce the size of the federal workforce, saying those efforts should be more targeted rather than relying upon attrition. Weichert said she was “not super informed” on the specifics of who was involved in crafting individual agency overhaul plans that were submitted as part of Trump’s recent fiscal 2019 budget proposal.
Weichert has leaned heavily on her private sector background and the value that experience would bring to her new position in government. She highlighted the patents that companies where she has worked have earned for innovations in fields such as payments management.
“My hope, if confirmed, is to bring this spirit of innovation, combined with private sector practices, to drive greater efficiency, effectiveness and transparency in federal management functions,” she said at her confirmation hearing.
She said her top three priorities as the head of the “M” side of OMB would be IT modernization; data, accountability and transparency; and “people and workforce for the 21st century.” She specifically highlighted the need to streamline the various hiring authorities available to federal agencies and to generally speed up the federal onboarding process.
Those goals generally align with the priorities outlined in Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget as a framework for the forthcoming president’s management agenda, which the administration said it will release next month.
Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, a non-profit group working to make the federal government more effective, applauded Weichert’s confirmation.
“Margaret Weichert is well-suited to serve as the deputy director of management at OMB, and she brings the business know-how necessary to develop and implement a management agenda that spans the enterprise of government,” Stier said. “With leaders like Margaret in place, this administration could transform the federal government and leverage OMB to drive collaboration, efficiency and better results for the American people.”