Biden Names Top Government Management Official
Former Obama adviser to lead Biden's management agenda.
President-elect Joe Biden has named Jason Miller as his government management czar, tapping a former Obama administration economic adviser for the key role in setting the president’s management and federal workforce agenda.
Miller served under Obama from 2010 until the end of his second term as the deputy director of the National Economic Council, where he was one of the president’s top advisers on economic policy issues. He has more recently held a position at the Brookings Institution as a nonresident senior fellow and as CEO of the Greater Washington Partnership, a group aiming to improve the livability and workability of the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area. Miller is currently serving as the Agency Review Team lead for the Biden transition at the U.S. Trade Representative.
Should Miller be confirmed by the Senate, he would serve under OMB Director-designate Neera Tanden if she is confirmed and replace Michael Rigas, who is serving in the OMB management role—and that of Office of Personnel Management director—in an acting capacity. The last Senate-confirmed official to hold the management position was Margaret Weichert, a Trump nominee who served concurrently as acting OPM director. Biden has yet to name a head of OPM.
As part of his portfolio in the Obama administration, Miller led the White House's manufacturing policy, launched the ManufacturingUSA program, guided new fuel efficiency standards and oversaw efforts related to Puerto Rico. He would enter his new job at a tumultuous time for the management of agencies and the civil service, which was often forced to bend to the whims of a mercurial President Trump. Under Trump, the management side of OMB focused on eliminating OPM, slashing federal rolls, stripping federal unions of much of their power and “reskilling” federal employees to fill areas with gaps.
Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, praised the pick and called on the Senate to quickly confirm Miller to "begin the task of revitalizing our government."
“Jason is an exceptional choice as deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, bringing a deep understanding of the federal government and how it should work,” Stier said. “His expertise will be invaluable in developing a strong management agenda to help President Biden effectively implement his ambitious policy agenda.”
Nick Hart, a former OMB official under Obama and current president of the Data Foundation, said Miller’s potential position is “one of the most important roles for a senior leader in government” and most Americans “don’t even know about it.” The deputy director will be charged with not just developing the president’s management agenda, but implementing legislative reforms to evidence-based policymaking, crafting a national data strategy and overseeing the civil service, he said.
“The [deputy director for management's] responsibilities and purview, it’s incredible,” Hart said. “Someone [like Miller] who has worked with OMB, in the Executive Office of the President and really has a broad understanding of government” is at an advantage. He added that Miller has a “deep understanding of how you implement policy that will, hopefully, set him up for success.”
As a candidate, Biden promised to empower the civil service and to give career experts in government a direct pipeline to his White House. He also vowed to listen to and elevate federal employee unions, a promise Miller would play a key role in implementing. Miller is a largely unknown quantity to the federal labor community, however, according to multiple individuals.
“We hope to have a close working relationship with him,” said Jacque Simon, director of public policy for the American Federation of Government Employees. “We don’t know him.” Simon added the deputy director for management position is a “very, very important” role for federal employee representatives and she has historically worked closely with the person in the position. “We certainly have many issues to bring to him.”
Biden on Friday also announced he would nominate Shalanda Young, the current staff director and clerk for the House Appropriations Committee, to serve as OMB's deputy director. One union official said Young had been a champion for federal workforce issues while working on funding legislation.