Posts Tagged ‘Don Gips’

Status of Political Appointments: June 2009

June 17, 2009

People have been asking me why I’m still doing a transition blog:  “Isn’t the transition over?”  Well, no.

It’s five months into the Obama Administration and according to the Washington Post’s Head Count, only 23 percent (146) of the top 492 jobs have been filled.  There’s yet to be an orientation of new incoming appointees, either.  Just last week GSA identified the Hay Group to organize and run the orientation.  This may not have been on the fast track in part because there wasn’t a critical mass of appointees in place to orient!  And the President’s Management Council – largely comprised of departmental deputy secretaries – hasn’t convened yet (to my knowledge) because there isn’t a quorum of deputy secretaries.

When visitors from foreign government come through our office asking about the transition progress of the new Obama Administration, I try to explain this to them.  They seem baffled.  How can the U.S. Government be fighting two wars, address a major economic crisis, pursue healthcare reform, combat climate change, and have less than a quarter of its top government executives in place?

I explain how Don Gips, the head of the president’s selection and appointment process, and his deputy, David Jacobson, have now both been selected for appointments as ambassadors.  These critical vacancies have the potential to slow the selection process.

I also explain how top level appointees need to be confirmed by the Senate.  I also share with them how this process isn’t always based on assessing the qualifications of the appointees, either.  For example, the hardcopy version of this week’s Federal Times notes that Senate floor votes on at least 25 nominees are being held up by some Republicans because they are miffed that the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor is scheduled for mid-July, which is sooner than they would like.  This hold up includes positions such as the chief lawyer for the State Department, an undersecretary for Homeland Security, and I guess Jeff Zients as well, whose nomination was voted out of committee a few days ago.

I get a blank look from these foreign visitors.  I just shrug.  I can’t explain it either!  But they better understand why more power and authority is being centralized in the White House, where most appointees do not need to be confirmed.  There, positions have been filled quickly and they are able to move forward on the president’s agenda.


Who Is On Agency Review Teams?

November 13, 2008

The Washington Post lists members of the agency transition teams.  In an article, “Officials Guiding the Process,” it lists the co-chairs of the overall agency review process, members of the 11-member working group, and a beginning of a list of agency team members:


Melody Barnes: Former executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and chief counsel to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Lisa Brown: On leave from her post as executive director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. Counsel to Vice President Al Gore.
Don Gips: On leave from his position as group vice president of Corporate Strategy and Development at Level 3 Communications. Chief domestic policy adviser to Gore.


Seth Harris: Labor, education and transportation agencies. Professor and director of labor and employment law programs at New York Law School. Former counselor to Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman.
David J. Hayes: Energy and natural resources agencies. Former global chair of the Environment, Land and Resources Department at the law firm Latham & Watkins.
Reed Hundt: International trade and economics agencies. Part-time senior adviser to McKinsey & Co., a strategic consulting firm, and an adviser to a number of firms. Former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
Sally Katzen: Executive Office of the President and government operations agencies. Lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School. Clinton administration Office of Management and Budget official.
Thomas E. Perez: Justice, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development. Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights under Attorney General Janet Reno.
Sarah Sewall: National security agencies. On part-time leave from the Kennedy School of Government, where she teaches and is faculty director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Served as the first deputy assistant secretary of defense for peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.
Louisa Terrell: On leave from her role as senior director at Yahoo’s public policy office in Washington. Former deputy chief of staff for Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Ray Rivera: Former Colorado director for the Obama-Biden campaign and former political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Michael Warren: International trade and economics agencies. On partial leave from his role as chief operating officer of Stonebridge International.
Tom Wheeler: Science, technology, space and arts agencies. On leave from Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm that works with early-stage technology companies, where he is a managing director.
Jon Wilkins: On partial leave from McKinsey & Co., where he is a partner in the Washington office. He worked at the FCC from 1998 to 1999.


Treasury Department

Josh Gotbaum: An adviser to investment funds, with a special focus on restructurings and management turnaround. Official at Treasury, Defense and OMB from 1994 to 2001.
Michael Warren (See above.)

State Department

Thomas E. Donilon: Partner at the law firm O’Melveny & Myers. Assistant secretary of state for public affairs and chief of staff at the State Department during the Clinton administration.
Wendy R. Sherman: Principal of Albright Group and Albright Capital Management. Counselor and chief troubleshooter for the State Department during the Clinton administration.

Defense Department

John P. White: Chair of the Kennedy School of Government’s Middle East Initiative. Deputy secretary of defense from 1995 to 1997.
Michèle A. Flournoy: President and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security. Principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and threat reduction and deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy during the Clinton administration.

November 15 – UPDATE:  Here’s the latest updated list provided by the Obama Transition Team.