Senate confirms GSA's Tangherlini, others to key agency posts

Friday - 6/28/2013, 4:26pm EDT

The top spots at a few key federal agencies are now officially filled following Senate confirmation votes this week.

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to approve Dan Tangherlini to be the administrator of the General Services Administration and Howard Shelanski to serve as the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget.

Senators also OK'd Brian Deese to serve as OMB deputy director for budget.

Tangherlini praised for GSA overhaul

Sen. Tom Carper, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, praised Tangherlini's confirmation.

Dan Tangherlini

"Over the past year, Mr. Tangherlini has led an impressive turnaround of GSA, and I am confident that he will continue this good work as administrator," Carper said in a statement.

Obama named Tangherlini acting GSA administrator last April during the fallout from an investigation into excessive conference spending at the agency. Obama formally nominated Tangherlini to serve as GSA's permanent head last month.

GSA has been roiled by high turnover in its top ranks for the last few years. Tangherlini is now the eighth administrator in as many years; two former administrators resigned amid controversy.

At his confirmation hearing June 18 before Carper's committee, Tangherlini was praised by lawmakers for his top-to-bottom review of the agency following the conference-spending scandal. But shortly before the hearing, the agency's inspector uncovered more wrongdoing — this time improper interference by GSA's acquisition management in the awarding of contracts.

Tangherlini, once again, promised an exhaustive review, directing Anne Rung, the newly installed chief acquisition officer, to examine all internal procurement policies.

OMB shuffle continues

Howard Shelanski

The Senate also unanimously approved Shelanski's nomination to head up the Office of Regulatory and Information Affairs.

"I believe that the President made an excellent choice in selecting Howard Shelanski to lead OIRA," Carper said in a statement. "He has the training and experience necessary to take on these important challenges and his leadership will prove to be an asset to the agency."

Obama nominated Shelanski, formerly an economist at the Federal Trade Commission, in April. At his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Shelanski promised to clear up delays in the regulatory process and to forge a better working relationship with Congress.

Finally, the Senate unanimously approved Deese to serve as deputy director for budget at OMB.

Obama nominated Deese, who played a key role in the 2009 auto bailout negotiations as deputy director of the National Economic Council, in April.

Brian Deese

"Having strong leadership at the Office of Management and Budget is important at any time, but it is particularly important at this moment, when our nation is so desperately in need of a long-term budget plan to rein in our federal deficit and debt," Carper said in a statement. "Brian Deese has earned a well-justified reputation as someone who can tackle the tough public policy matters facing our nation ... He has a passion for public service and for finding ways for our government to make smart choices so that individuals and businesses can flourish."

Deese replaces Heather Higginbottom, who left the deputy role in February to serve as a counselor to Secretary of State John Kerry.

OMB has been hard hit by turnover in Obama's second-term personnel shuffle.

The top slot had officially been vacant since former director Jack Lew was named White House chief of staff in January 2012 (later nominated and confirmed to head the Treasury Department).

However, Obama nominated Sylvia Burwell, a Clinton-administration OMB official and most recently head of the Wal-Mart Foundation, to serve as OMB chief in March. The Senate approved her nomination in April.

Meanwhile, the deputy director for management role, is still vacant at OMB.

Jeff Zients, who had served in that role since 2009 — and who had stepped in on three separate occasions to lead the agency on an interim basis when the top spot was vacant — departed OMB May 1.

The White House said Steven VanRoekel, the federal chief information officer, will oversee OMB's management efforts until a new deputy director is nominated.

The Senate this week also confirmed billionaire businesswoman Penny Pritzker to head the Commerce Department and Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx to lead the Transportation Department.

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