Bolten confirmed as OMB director

As the new director of the Office of Management and Budget, Joshua Bolten will be leading the effort to make the Bush administration's management agenda part of every agency's day-to-day management.

The Senate confirmed Bolten as director June 27. Former deputy chief of staff for policy at the White House, he pledged at his confirmation hearing to reinforce the administration's emphasis on the management side of OMB and the budget.

He replaces Mitchell Daniels Jr., who left June 6 to return to Indiana, where he is expected to run for governor. Many cited Daniels as the driving force behind the President's Management Agenda and stressed that his replacement must continue that momentum.

Bolten is the right person to make that happen, said Carl DeMaio, president of the Performance Institute. As the person who has led President Bush's policy staff since the campaign, "he'll be able to bring policy to the budget," DeMaio said.

"He can provide the glue to seal the budget and management sides of OMB... take what Daniels rolled into place and connect the dots," he said.

Daniels hammered the management agenda into place within the agencies and made sure the initial successes happened, DeMaio said. Now the administration needs someone who can get the agencies' top leaders to understand how the individual agenda items — goals as varied as integrating budgets with performance and expanding the use of e-government — can really help agencies move forward, he said.

Although OMB still has no deputy director, Bolten joins Clay Johnson at the top of the agency. The Senate confirmed Johnson as deputy director for management June 11.

At Bolten's confirmation hearing June 25, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and others on the committee emphasized the urgency of confirming Bolten before the July 4 recess. They sought to ensure that OMB had the leadership in place to work with Congress on upcoming appropriations bills.

Collins also pointed out that "while OMB's budget functions are important, so are its management responsibilities. Ensuring agencies are properly managed is crucial to seeing that taxpayer dollars are properly spent."

Bolten spoke about each of the management agenda initiatives at the hearing, stating that OMB's role ranges from coordination to support to enforcement, and that the management agenda is "equally important" to developing the annual budget.

When it comes to information technology, the agency's greatest advantage is its ability to provide guidance based on information from all agencies, not just the limited perspective of a single agency or segment, Bolten said. "OMB's strength is that it can look out across the whole of government."

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