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Orszag exit speech touts Administration achievements
Friday - 7/30/2010, 11:57am EDT
"It was a speech that was as much homecoming as it was a farewell for Peter Orszag, who leaves the White House [today] for the last time as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
"Orszag delivered his final public speech as OMB director on Wednesday before a packed house at the Brookings Institution, where he once served as a senior fellow before going on to the Congressional Budget Office.
"Orszag recounted his work on the economic stimulus program, and health care reform, but focused much of his speech on what he called 'efforts to improve the functioning of our government over time.'
"At OMB, Orszag has a reputation as one of the OMB chiefs who emphasized the 'M' in management, as well as the 'B' in Budget. To that end, his farewell speech touched upon Obama Administration efforts to bring the federal government into the Internet age.
"Orszag talked about how the White House has set out to eliminate government programs that he says are outdated, duplicative or don't work. And he discussed a little-publicized OMB initiative that took aim at the stubborn, persistent problem of what are called improper payments by the government.
"In addition, he says the administration worked with Congress to write and approve a bill to give agencies added tools to combat improper payments, a measure which the President recently signed into law.
"Orszag also talked about an ongoing initiative within OMB and the federal chief information officer community to crack down on expensive information technology programs, and in particular, financial management programs in most departments which he says have a bad reputation for being expensive and out of date by the time they are complete.
"He also began the process of shepherding a non-defense or homeland security discretionary spending freeze across the government, and recently asked agencies to cut 5 percent from their budgets in 2011.
"Responding to reporter questions, Orszag was reluctant to recommend whether the president, or his nominated successor, Jacob Lew, should extend or not extend tax cuts slated to expire later this year, saying only that he would no longer be on the job by the time that decision is required.
"Lew is expected to face Senate confirmation hearings to replace Orszag in September.
"Orszag, meanwhile, heads for the Council on Foreign Relations after he leaves OMB this Friday."
I played highlights of Mr. Orszag's speech in the first hour today.