Denett earns OFPP nomination

President Bush also nominates a new OMB director

The Bush administration’s nomination of Paul Denett to lead the Office of Federal Procurement Policy is winning accolades from observers of the procurement process. They say Denett brings ample experience and integrity to an organization that was rocked when its previous leader resigned just before being indicted.

Currently vice president of contracting programs at ESI International, Denett has also served in procurement leadership roles at the Interior and Treasury departments.

“His extensive and hands-on government and industry experience would bring the right balance to this role in an important policy office,” said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council.

Other procurement experts concurred. Steve Kelman, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a columnist for Federal Computer Week, said, “He is approachable, doesn’t have an overblown ego and is totally devoted to a procurement system that delivers value for our agencies and taxpayers. Paul is just the shot in the arm the procurement community needs right now.”

Denett would succeed David Safavian, who was indicted last year on charges related to his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Consultant Robert Guerra said Denett and Lurita Alexis Doan, President Bush’s nominee to be the new administrator of the General Services Administration, have an opportunity to re-establish control over an acquisition system that is beginning to fray.

“My only hope is that he and the new GSA administrator can bring back a strong focus on acquisition management and leadership in the acquisition community,” Guerra said. “We need that leadership from both.”

GSA and OFPP have had vacancies at the top since last year. Top career officials at each agency have been filling in on an interim basis, awaiting new political appointees.

Bush’s other new political appointments include U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, a former Republican congressman from Ohio, to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Former OMB Director Joshua Bolten was recently named White House chief of staff.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement that the union had policy disagreements with Portman when he served in the House. NTEU has fought through legal means what the union considers regressive personnel rules that Portman helped establish in the legislation that created the Homeland Security Department.

Nevertheless, Kelley said, “I do not expect the Portman appointment to result in significant policy changes…within OMB and the administration, but I remain ready to work with him on issues of concern to the federal workforce and the nation.”

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