Point man on agency IT

O'Keefe's bio from Maxwell

Related Links

OMB

How do you explain to your two youngest children that you have accepted a job that promises 15-hour days at a government salary and requires you to move three states southward?

"I said, "Well, this is like the equivalent of being invited to play fantasy baseball with the All-Star team,' and they said, "OK, I get that!' " said Sean O'Keefe, the new deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

It was the policies and the philosophy of then-president-elect George W. Bush that convinced O'Keefe to leave his job as a professor at Syracuse University and re-enter government service after spending almost seven years outside the Beltway. In his office, school portraits of O'Keefe's three children sit beside photos of him and Colin Powell from when they were both at the Defense Department. Balancing his family life in upstate New York with his key administration job comes with the territory — but it hasn't been easy. It's "a real pain in the neck, I can tell you."

As deputy director, he is the second-in-command at the executive office that wields the greatest influence over government functions. And as one of only two confirmed appointees at OMB, O'Keefe is also spending much time handling the management and information technology issues that usually fall in the bailiwick of the deputy director for management — a position for which Bush still seeks a nominee.

O'Keefe brings a varied background and an important sense of perspective to his new job, which "doesn't necessarily help you get to a solution any faster, but you sure can figure out where folks are coming from," he said. During the past 20 years, he served on the Senate Appropriations Committee and as chief budget officer in the Pentagon, and lectured on the combination of business and government policy at Syracuse.

Now, in leading the formulation and implementation of Bush's policy views through the federal budget, he looks forward to applying the "classical kind of conservative political economy view" that he spent so much time talking about to graduate students who just "glossed over it."

"Things like e-gov — all those [things] ought to be guided by the view that says, "Forget about what is the optimum [IT] solution; if it doesn't respond to a citizen interest, then what are we doing it for?' " he said.

O'Keefe has had assorted jobs in both the executive and legislative branches during his long tenure in government, but he still has little patience for the maneuvering that goes on in Washington. An issue guaranteed to raise his ire is the Senate confirmation process, which he recently endured and which awaits the nominees for other top OMB policy posts: the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

Until the Senate confirms John Graham to lead OIRA, which oversees agency IT issues such as security and privacy, and Angela Styles at OFPP, which oversees acquisition practices, O'Keefe and OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. will be spending an awful lot of time on issues they would not normally dive into this deep, O'Keefe said.

"We're just really anxious for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee to turn their attention to those two nominees...[but] they're certain to get to them with all deliberate speed, like the Senate gets to everything else," he said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

OMB also relies on agency chief information officers who must continue the work toward e-government even without the OMB deputy director for management, O'Keefe said. But the difficulty in getting top-level appointees in place indicates that installing CIOs or other cross-government officials will take time, he said.

Delegating and spreading responsibility are crucial in the new administration, "kind of [moving] toward Cabinet governance here, if you will," O'Keefe said. During the 2003 budget process, OMB will work closely with department heads, not just on numbers, but on concepts and proposals from the Bush team. And O'Keefe has already met with the CIO Council to evaluate the governmentwide IT management issues that support much of Bush's agenda.

"It's less now a "here's the decision over the transom,' and more of a "here's a deliberate approach that says here's how we want to proceed with this and we're here to make that feasible,' " he said.

That "Cabinet governance" approach to agencies will manifest itself in the weeks to come, O'Keefe said, and department leaders can be expected to exert their authority. "This approach is very much a manifestation of the president's general philosophy."

MORE INFO

The Sean O'Keefe file

Position: Deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Previous positions — 1996-2000: Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business

and Government Policy, Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship

and Public Affairs, and director of National Security Studies.

1993-1996: Professor of business administration, special assistant to

the senior vice president for research, and dean of the graduate school

at Pennsylvania State University.

1992-1993: Secretary of the Navy.

1989-1992: Comptroller and chief financial officer at the Defense Department.

1981-1989: Staff director and professional staff member of the Senate

Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee.

1980-1981: Budget analyst for the Naval Sea Systems Command and the

Navy.

Education: Bachelor's degree from Loyola University, New Orleans; Master's

in public administration from Syracuse University.

Family: Wife, Laura; daughter, Lindsey, 14; two sons, Kevin, 10, and

Jonathan, 11. For now, all four still live in Manlius, N.Y., just outside

Syracuse.

Current living situation: "We just got an offer on [our New York] house

this weekend, so we're going to be furiously looking around here in the

next two months.... I've been doing the living-out-of-a-suitcase-and-commute

routine for the past several months."

NEXT STORY: FAA beams data to travelers

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.