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Obama Nominates Consulting Executive to Fill Management Chief Void

President picks McKinsey & Co. official as deputy director for management.

This story has been updated. 

President Obama on Tuesday evening announced he has picked an executive at a top private-sector consulting firm to serve as his management chief.

Obama said he will nominate Beth Cobert, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co., to be deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. That position has been vacant since Jeffrey Zients, who also had significant private-sector experience, left the job on May 1.

Cobert has worked for McKinsey since 1984 and is based in the firm’s San Francisco office. She is an expert in strategy and economic development, according to her company biography, and serves clients in industries including financial services, telecommunications and health care. She is the firm’s global leader for functional capability building, responsible for developing skills among more than 9,000 consulting staff.

OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement that she is “incredibly pleased” with the nomination, and noted that Cobert has “led major projects to generate performance improvements through process streamlining, enhanced customer service, improved deployment of technology, more effective marketing programs and strengthened organizational effectiveness.” Cobert has also “been a champion for people development and initiatives to support women's advancement to leadership positions,” Burwell added.

Robert Shea, an OMB veteran of the George W. Bush administration now a principal with Grant Thornton LLP, told Government Executive he is “glad we have a leader nominated to take the administration's management agenda to the next level. I'll be interested to see what new ideas or innovations she can bring to solving the government's seemingly intractable problems.”

Before joining McKinsey, Cobert was an analyst at Goldman Sachs. She earned her B.A. from Princeton University and her M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The deputy director for management position has been filled in recent months on an acting basis by Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel, whom Burwell thanked for advancing the “administration’s tech agenda as well as the development of the Second Term Management Agenda to make our government more efficient and effective, delivering impact to communities across the country.”