Cheney associate to take key OMB job

President Bush is expected to nominate Sean O'Keefe, who has close ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget where he would have a major role in shaping the federal budget.

If confirmed by the Senate, O'Keefe, 45, an expert in budget, technology and national security issues, would be deputy director for budget under OMB Director Mitchell Daniels. O'Keefe is already working out of an OMB office.

Bush has yet to name the successor to Sally Katzen as deputy director for management at OMB.

Although O'Keefe's major responsibility will revolve around the budget, he will have a lot to say about spending on information technology, according to industry sources.

A professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, O'Keefe is the director of National Security Studies, which provides executive education programs for senior military and civilian personnel.

"Sean is close to Cheney. He knows [Secretary of State] Colin Powell. Both of them have been here a couple of times to talk; Sean has been able to attract a lot of people," said Melvyn Levitsky, a professor at the Maxwell School and former ambassador to Brazil.

Jeffrey Straussman, another colleague at the Maxwell School, described O'Keefe as someone who thinks that the "government should be at the cutting edge of IT."

O'Keefe was part of the Defense Department management team when Cheney was secretary under former President Bush — first as DOD comptroller and later in 1992 as Navy secretary. Before that, he served as a staff member on the Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee.

O'Keefe has written extensively about technology and government as well as budget issues. He recently taught a course at the Maxwell School on IT and public policy that looked at the public influence on technology and how government can affect "market opportunities" with specific policies and programs.

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