Clinton clears Katzen for OMB No. 2 post

Clinton clears Katzen for OMB No. 2 post

'Now I can be more visible,' OMB's new management chief Sally Katzen says.

By Julie Britt

GCN Staff

Sally Katzen is ready to get to work'officially, that is.

President Clinton this month appointed Katzen deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, circumventing a stalled Senate confirmation process.

'I was very pleased and thankful for his confidence in me, and appreciative of the opportunity to do the job he wanted me to do,' Katzen said.

Clinton nominated Katzen to the post last year, but Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) placed a hold on the Senate confirmation vote, expressing doubts about her suitability for the job [GCN, March 6, Page 6].

Although the Senate could not take action because of Voinovich's vote ban, the president could clear her appointment, a power he has only when Congress is in recess.

Katzen's stint as counselor to OMB Director Jacob Lew kept her in the loop, but lack of confirmation forced her to play a behind-the-scenes role, she said last week.

As deputy director for management, Katzen will oversee the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Office of Federal Financial Management. Her new post also includes overall responsibility for federal management practices and procedures.

Now that the long-awaited position is officially hers, Katzen said she is eager to tackle the responsibility.

'I will now be able to make decisions instead of merely making recommendations,' she said, adding that OMB has implemented many of her suggestions.

Katzen also plans to become more visible, she said. OMB policy and practice lets only those who have been confirmed testify at congressional hearings, she said. So during the past year she has not spoken on the record to lawmakers about subjects under her purview; that responsibility fell to her OMB colleagues.

'I will now be able to testify and articulate the administration's position on a number of issues,' Katzen said.

Protocol also demands that officials awaiting confirmation keep a low profile, although lawmakers have urged OMB to exercise more leadership and management, she said.

'I have been respectful of that practice, but now I can be more visible,' Katzen said.

First things first

Katzen takes aim at 2001
'Use performance information to improve program management

''Push for improved financial management

'Expand use of capital planning

'Improve computer security

''Strengthen statistical programs

'Implement acquisition reforms

'Implement e-government initiatives

'Streamline federal grants management

At her confirmation hearing more than a year ago, Katzen outlined her priorities.

She also helped OMB identify top management objectives for the 2001 fiscal budget'some governmentwide and some agency-specific.

'They reflect what I think are the important management challenges in the government,' she said.

Electronic government 'is high on my priority list,' she said. 'It's important that it happens, and we want to make sure it is done right.'

What's more, Katzen said, is that many of the issues now on OMB's agenda won't change under a new presidential administration. Vice President Gore would continue the emphasis on performance results as president, and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, has also talked about performance management and e-government, she said.

'That is good government, what we should be doing,' Katzen said.

As the Clinton administration winds down, officials can lay a firm foundation on which successors of either party can build, she said.

Even while awaiting confirmation, Katzen has not held her tongue on the governmentwide chief information officer debate, another campaign issue. Katzen has repeatedly objected to an overarching CIO, saying information technology management responsibility falls under the OMB position she now holds. The House this fall will consider a bill that would establish a governmentwide CIO [GCN, July 3, Page 6].

Bush has said that, as president, he would name the OMB deputy director of management as governmentwide CIO to control a proposed $100 million fund for e-government initiatives [GCN, June 19, Page 6].

At the controls

'OMB does have that responsibility under the Paperwork Reduction Act and Clinger-Cohen, and we have, in fact, performed that role,' Katzen said, noting that the deputy director for management serves as chairman of the CIO Council.

OMB will continue to provide the IT leadership it demonstrated during the government's year 2000 preparations, she said. The federal budget demonstrates the government's juggling of competing objectives, not a lack of enthusiasm for IT, she said.

The administration is trying to streamline government, and 'this is not the time to create a new Cabinet-level position,' Katzen said [GCN, March 6, Page 58].

Katzen previously was deputy director of the President's National Economic Council. Before that, she spent almost five years as administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Before joining the Clinton administration, Katzen was a partner in a Washington law firm.


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