President-elect taps former Republican administration officials to head OMB, OPM and GSA "landing teams."
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday named the leadership teams who will oversee his transition efforts at governmentwide management agencies. They include congressional aides and former top officials with both Bush administrations.
Trump’s announcement comes as he deploys “landing teams” to domestic agencies to coordinate the president-elect’s efforts with the work that has been underway within agencies for months to prepare the next administration. At least one transition team member, former Office of Personnel Management Director Linda Springer, was previously a member of Trump’s transition team when Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J, was leading it.
Springer will lead the team deployed to the Office of Management and Budget along with Dan Kowalski, who has recently served as deputy chief of staff on the Senate Budget Committee under the chairmanship of Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. Kowalski has also served on the House Budget Committee and has worked on budget issues at the state level. Enzi’s panel has repeatedly advocated for biennial budgeting and creating a separate budget process for agency regulations. He has accused agencies of overspending on public relations and backed deep cuts to federal employees’ pay and benefits to reduce the federal debt.
Springer served as OPM director from 2005 to 2008, and helped lead the agency’s efforts to shift the government from a paper-based to an electronic human resources system. Before her tenure at OPM, she was OMB controller and head of the Office of Federal Financial Management. After serving in government, she was an executive director in Ernst and Young’s government and public sector practice, and has been a fellow since 2006 at the National Academy of Public Administration. Springer publicly endorsed Trump in June, calling him a “proven leader with the strength and determination essential to address the critical challenges our country is facing,” according to a Politico report. The same story quoted Trump praising Springer as “a leader in federal government management issues” who “understands the need for an effective government that serves its constituents – the citizens of our country.”
Paul Conway will head up the landing team at OPM, where he served as chief of staff during the George W. Bush administration. He previously held the same role at the Labor Department and began his career in public service as an Education Department appointee in the Reagan administration. He has worked for the Heritage Foundation and most recently led a group called Generation Opportunity, a group funded by the conservative Koch brothers that focuses on millennial outreach.
Robert Mackichan will lead the General Services Administration team, bringing with him a wealth of experience with the agency. He served as GSA’s general counsel under George H.W. Bush and deputy general counsel under Reagan, for whom he was also the associate director of presidential personnel. In his time at GSA, Mackichan worked on public bond financing for agency projects and led an effort to revise the standard government lease. Mackichan most recently was a partner in the government contracts practice at the law firm Holland and Knight.
Whoever Trump taps to serve as GSA administrator will likely draw significant attention. Various reports have noted the agency will oversee the lease between GSA and Trump’s private business, which is operating a hotel at the federally owned Old Post Office Building in Washington. GSA has said it will examine the ethics issues involving that lease.
Trump’s personnel management team could have its work cut out for it, as the president-elect has promised various changes to civil service laws and a governmentwide hiring freeze on his first day in office. While Trump’s team will work with the White House Presidential Personnel Office on how personnel management issues will be prioritized, OPM, OMB and GSA all have both internal and governmentwide transition responsibilities. OPM, for example, has hosted transition training initiatives through the Chief Human Capital Officers Council as well as online webinars, and provided guidance to agency heads, transition leaders and human resources personnel.
Kellie Lunney contributed to this report.