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OMB's Zients cutting through red tape

By Ed O'Keefe

Here's a quick read worth your time today on one of the most underappreciated members of the Obama administration: Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients, also known as the government's first chief performance officer.

Jeffrey Zients
OMB Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients (Photo courtesy of TheFiscalTimes.com)

Though his boss, Peter Orszag, serves as the administration's public face and lead bean counter, it's Zients who's making some of the more interesting and potentially long-term changes to government management and budget practices.

Here's a key takeaway from the new profile of Zients by Katherine Reynolds Lewis of The Fiscal Times:

Zients' approach, colleagues and analysts say, combines his significant people skills with a strategic, analytical mind and the intensity of his private-sector career. He's liable to roll out promising initiatives as soon as they've gained enough traction to move forward. "He's both hard charging but nice and that's an unusual combination anywhere," said Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, a good-government research and advocacy group. "He recognizes that if he doesn't get buy-in in the agencies, he can't institutionalize the changes he's trying to make."
After being confirmed last June 19, Zients embarked on a 100-day "listening tour," meeting with federal career managers, good government groups, academics, front-line employees and the deputy secretaries of the major departments, who make up the President's Management Council.
The council—which Zients chairs as deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget—soon became a key vehicle for building support within agencies and spreading best practices within the government. Zients invited all of the council members and their significant others to his house for dinner in the first few months of his tenure and has encouraged personal connections beyond the council's regular meetings. The result: Council members return each others' calls the same day and consider each other allies, said Scott Gould, deputy secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"He [Zients] understands that as a team we're going to move at the speed of trust," Gould said. "He's the individual who's brought the members of the President's Management Council more closely together."

Read the full profile here and leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 14, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Budget, FY-Eye  
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Comments

Thank you for featuring my article. I really appreciate it, and hope your readers find the piece worthwhile!

Posted by: Alto1 | June 14, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

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