Nominee outlines management style

If confirmed as the deputy director for management for the Office of Management and Budget, Clay Johnson III would bring a focus on management and accountability to the government, he told lawmakers at a Senate hearing on his nomination.

"I like to bring method to madness, order to chaos, structure where there may not be," Johnson told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee April 2. "I like getting people around a table and clarifying what it is we are going to do and who is responsible," he said.

As the deputy director of management, Johnson would be responsible for overseeing and bringing better management practices to agencies and programs. He would replace Mark Everson, now the nominee for IRS commissioner. Everson had been OMB deputy director for management since August 2002.

Johnson has a background in management in the private sector as the deputy director of the Dallas Museum of Art and president of a division of the Neiman Marcus Group Inc., a Dallas-based retailer. He most recently was President Bush's director of personnel.

Committee members at the hearing supported his nomination, saying he has the necessary skills and background for the position.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the committee, said OMB has a "two-pronged" mission, but the focus has gravitated toward the budget side. The Bush administration has now put an emphasis on the management side, and Johnson has the experience to continue that focus, she said.

"We're here to provide leadership in the management arena," Johnson said of the OMB position. "It's a facilitator to provide them with the direction and hold them accountable to sound management practices," he said.

In response to questions about how he would deal with programs that have been placed on the General Accounting Office's high-risk list, Johnson said he would make sure there was a clear plan for those programs. He said he would map out clear responsibilities, a detailed to-do list, and ensure top management wanted to see the program improved.

Johnson said he would work to meet the goals of the expanded e-government initiatives. "If confirmed as [deputy director for management], I will focus my energies on implementing the expanded electronic government initiatives, which focuses agencies' attention on areas of IT management where the opportunity to improve is the greatest: project management, IT security, and system streamlining and consolidation," he said in a prepared pre-hearing questionnaire.

Johnson told lawmakers he supported the Human Capital Performance Fund to reward employees based on performance. He said such a move would attract and retain good workers to the government.

"I believe it is very important to reward good performance," he said. "Right now our pay systems don't do that. They reward longevity."

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