Obama names Washington businessman as chief performance officer

President Obama on Saturday named a Washington-area entrepreneur and management consultant as the government's first chief performance officer.

Jeffrey Zients also will serve as deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, Obama said during his April 18 radio address. A multimillionaire who made his money as a management consultant, Zients currently runs Portfolio Logic, a firm that invests in business services and health care companies.

"Jeffrey will work to streamline processes, cut costs, and find best practices throughout our government," Obama said.

The president focused his address on government efficiency and accountability. He said he will ask department heads during their first full Cabinet meeting next week for specific proposals on cutting their budgets.

"Already, members of my Cabinet have begun to trim back unnecessary expenditures," Obama said, citing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Defense Secretary Robert Gates as examples.

Obama also said that he plans to announce in the coming weeks the "elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective," adding that there will be "no sacred cows, and no pet projects."

The president announced that Aneesh Chopra, Virginia's technology secretary, will serve as the government's chief technology officer and work closely with Vivek Kundra, the chief information officer. Zients replaces Nancy Killefer as Obama's pick for the top federal management position. Killefer withdrew in February to avoid controversy over issues related to her personal income taxes.

Zients served as chief executive officer and chairman of the Washington-based Advisory Board Company and as head of the Corporate Executive Board. The firms provide best practices and customized market research on health care and financial management. Zients also launched an unsuccessful bid with other Washington-area investors in 2005 to buy the Washington Nationals baseball team.

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