Acquisition expert Wilkinson to leave Senate committee

Tuesday - 10/4/2011, 4:51pm EDT

Molly Wilkinson, an acquisition expert and long time federal community figure, is leaving her position on Capitol Hill.

Wilkinson, who has worked on the hill or in agencies for the past 22 years, will join Regions Bank as a senior vice president of governmental affairs starting Nov. 7.

For the past two years, Wilkinson has served as the Republican general counsel for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee under Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.). She's worked for the committee for three years.

"This is a very tough decision for me," Wilkinson said. "But I'm leaving the hill to make my mom a priority. This new job gives me the flexibility in terms of hours and pay to be able to take care of my mom. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I will have a lot to learn, and I will miss the acquisition stuff."

She came to the committee after spending time as the chief of staff at the Small Business Administration, the chief acquisition officer at the General Services Administration and the Labor Department's associate deputy secretary for management during the Bush administration.

Wilkinson also worked for Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah).

"Sen. Collins has been a great mentor to me," she said. "She has taught me a tremendous amount about acquisition and she is one of senators up here who enjoys acquisition. She will quote the FAR."

Wilkinson said she is proud of many things during her career on the hill.

Specifically, she said the effort by Collins to keep politics out of contracting and fighting the Obama administration's draft executive order. Wilkinson said she helped Collins get language in the Defense authorization bill to prohibit the Defense Department from considering vendor political contributions when making a contract award.

Wilkinson also played a role in the committee's objection to the administration's High Road contracting proposal.

She said she's also proud of getting the Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act through the committee. She said Collins is hopeful the full Senate will vote on the bill.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) sponsored the House version, which was included in the chamber's version of the Defense authorization bill for 2012.

"I will miss Sen. Collins and the people on the committee," Wilkinson said. "I like everyone I work with, there's a lot of camaraderie and it's a real team effort."