Obama nominates McKinsey consultant as deputy director for management

Tuesday - 9/10/2013, 8:30pm EDT

President Barack Obama nominated Beth Cobert as the new deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed by the Senate, Cobert would replace Jeff Zients, who left the position in May after spending four years as the DDM.

Cobert is a senior partner at McKinsey & Company where she is the global leader for functional capability building. In that role, she is developing the skills for the more than 9,000 employees in the consulting practice. She also is the firm's global leader in marketing and sales and the chairwoman of McKinsey's pension fund.

Partner at McKinsey & Company Beth Cobert is nominated to be the Office of Management and Budget's new deputy director for management.
(Photo: McKinsey & Company)

Since May, federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel has been acting deputy director for management.

"Beth has spent nearly 30 years at McKinsey & Company as a director and senior partner where she worked with corporate, not-for-profit and government entities on key strategic, operational and organizational issues across a range of sectors, including financial services, health care, legal services, real estate, telecommunications, and philanthropies," said Sylvia Burwell, OMB director, in a statement. "She has led major projects to generate performance improvements through process streamlining, enhanced customer service, improved deployment of technology, more effective marketing programs and strengthened organizational effectiveness. Within McKinsey, Beth has been a champion for people development and initiatives to support women's advancement to leadership positions."

Burwell also thanked VanRoekel for his time as acting DDM.

"Steve has been an integral member of OMB's leadership team for the past two years, serving as the U.S. Chief Information Officer and a key advisor on a range of management issues," she said. "I look forward to working with Steve in the months ahead in continuing the progress we're making on the administration's tech agenda as well as the development of the Second Term Management Agenda to make our government more efficient and effective, delivering impact to communities across the country."

Cobert comes as Obama launched his second term management agenda in July. Burwell is leading the effort to add more specifics to creating a smarter, more innovative government. Cobert likely would lead the initiatives within the second term management agenda.

Obama said in July that the management-agenda revamp will focus on three areas where the administration already has seen success: Finding ways to deliver government services more quickly and more conveniently, cutting duplicative and unnecessary programs and expanding the number and type of government datasets provided online.

A large part of the initiative will be continuing to adopt good ideas from the private sector, he said, exemplified by the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. The White House chose a second class of 43 fellows late last month to work on nine different program areas that focus on bringing private-sector expertise to help solve public sector problems.

If the Senate confirms Cobert, Burwell would have her top deputies in place. The Senate approved Brian Deese as the deputy director for budget in June.

Along with Cobert, Obama nominated Sloan Gibson to be the deputy secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department. Gibson would come to VA after serving as the chief executive officer and president of the United Service Organizations (USO). He would replace Scott Gould, who left in May.

Jim Shelton received the nomination to be deputy secretary of the Education Department. He has been acting since June 2013.

Jo Ann Rooney would come back to government as the under secretary of the Navy after spending more than a year with a private-sector consulting firm. Previously, she served as the principal deputy under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense from 2011 to 2012, and served as acting under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness from November 2011 to June 2012.

And Obama also nominated a familiar face to take over as a top management official at the State Department. Heather Higginbottom would move from counselor in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of State to the deputy secretary for management and resources.

Prior to joining State, Higginbottom served as deputy director for budget at OMB, from 2011 to 2013 and from 2009 to 2011 she was the deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

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