Bush taps policy adviser for OMB post

Bolten bio at Results.gov

President Bush last week named Josh Bolten as his nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, but his information technology agenda is unclear.

Bolten, currently deputy chief of staff for policy at the White House and involved in domestic and economic issues, would replace Mitchell Daniels Jr., who announced his departure May 6.

Daniels has been a strong supporter of e-government initiatives because they support the President's Management Agenda. But Daniels also frequently faced off with Congress over budget issues and drew sharp criticism in 2001, when he said in a speech that federal IT workers "are probably not the best the nation has to offer," are hampering e-government efforts and, beyond front-line employees, don't "have cutting-edge leadership."

While the budget is clearly the top priority for any director of OMB, "people will be watching to see if there's any loss in the momentum that Mitch established on the management agenda," said Bruce McConnell, president of McConnell International LLC and former chief of information policy and technology at OMB.

At the announcement of his nomination May 22, Bolten highlighted Daniels' efforts to strengthen the management side of OMB, pointing out that "the right question is not how much can we spend, but how well. Are we using the taxpayers' money wisely?"

Bolten has been a lead adviser for Bush since serving as policy director during his 2000 campaign. He also served in several White House positions during the first Bush administration, as international trade counsel on the Senate Finance Committee, and from 1994 to 1999 as executive director of legal and government affairs for Goldman Sachs International in London.

Clay Johnson, another official who has been with the president since his time in Texas, is still awaiting Senate approval to be the deputy director for management at OMB — a position that holds direct control of the President's Management Agenda.

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