Sylvia M. Burwell, President Obama's nominee for federal budget chief received a half-million-dollar signing bonus from her last job as president of Walmart's charitable arm, according a recent financial disclosure form. (Thomas Brown / Staff)
President Obama’s nominee for federal budget chief received a half-million-dollar signing bonus from her last job as president of Walmart’s charitable arm, according a recent financial disclosure form.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, nominated to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, also reported on government ethics forms that she received about $400,000 in salary in 2012 and through March 4 this year, with assets that include at least $100,000 in deferred compensation and a cash incentive payment worth between $250,001 and $500,000.
In addition, Burwell disclosed various Walmart stock holdings worth between $700,000 and $1.5 million, according to forms she filed with the Office of Government Ethics.
The financial disclosure provides a window into the retailer’s nonprofit executive compensation practices.
On Internal Revenue Service forms, the Walmart Foundation lists making no payments to Burwell or to any other directors for that matter.
Meanwhile, Burwell reports her compensation coming not from the charitable foundation she ran but rather from Walmart Stores Inc., the corporate entity, where she also held the title of vice president.
Neither OMB nor Walmart responded to questions about the arrangement on Tuesday
Burwell, who served as deputy OMB director during the Clinton administration, appears headed to easy confirmation. During a two-hour hearing Tuesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, she faced mostly gentle questions that focused on OMB’s role as the government’s rule-making gatekeeper through the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Pressed by Republicans on issues such as agency sluggishness in issuing regulations, Burwell highlighted the need for communication in determining where the snags lie. In response to concerns voiced by Mark Pryor, D-Ark., that the size of OIRA’s staff is at an all-time low, Burwell said she would seek to put a strong team in place across OMB.
“I believe you will be our next OMB director,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who led the budget office in 2006-2007 during President George W. Bush’s administration.
OMB has not had a permanent head since January 2012, when then-Director Jack Lew left to become White House chief of staff and is now Treasury secretary. OMB Deputy Director Jeff Zients has served as acting OMB chief since Lew left.
Burwell pledged Tuesday to keep pressing agencies to do a better job of spending taxpayer money.
“In the current fiscal environment, it is more important than ever that we are operating the government in the most efficient and effective manner,” she said.
If she wins Senate approval, for example, Burwell said she would continue OMB initiatives “to review and halt” financial management technology projects that go off-track, according to written responses to a committee questionnaire. She also plans to work on improving federal real estate management, reducing improper payments and bolstering agency performance.
The homeland security panel will likely vote on Burwell’s nomination within the next few weeks. The Senate Budget Committee, which also has jurisdiction over OMB, has scheduled its own confirmation hearing for Wednesday morning.