Obama to name Zients acting OMB director

Tuesday - 1/17/2012, 5:24pm EST

The White House has announced Jeffrey Zients will serve as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget when current director Jack Lew steps down next month to become White House chief of staff.

Jeffrey Zients

It's a familiar role for Zients, OMB's deputy director for management and the administration's chief performance officer. He previously served as the agency's acting director after the administration's first budget director, Peter Orszag resigned in July 2010.

"Since day one, Jeff has demonstrated superb judgment and has provided sound advice on a whole host of issues," said President Barack Obama in a White House release. "With decades of experience, Jeff has been a tremendous asset to our team and I'm confident in his ability to help us rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility pay off and the middle class has a chance to get ahead."

Zients was confirmed as OMB deputy director in June 2009. He served as chief executive and chairman of the Advisory Board Company as well as chairman of the Corporate Executive Board. Both companies focus on management best practices.

At OMB, he as taken on a number of tasks, including the federal government's information technology and hiring practices.

In January 2011, Obama tapped Zients to lead the first major government reorganization in half a century. Those efforts culminated in an announcement last week that the administration would ask Congress for the authority to merge several trade and business-related agencies together.

Zients has been listed as a possible successor ever since Lew's departure was announced.

In a post on the OMB blog, Lew noted Zients previous stint as acting OMB director.

"In his nearly three years at OMB, Jeff has worked closely with agencies to cut waste and make government more efficient and effective for the American people, developing deep knowledge of the federal government, and applying lessons learned from his private sector experience to save taxpayer dollars," Lew wrote.

Lew also pointed to Heather Higginbottom, OMB deputy director for budget, as helping to provide a "strong continuity of leadership."

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