Beth Cobert testifies about her nomination to be deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budge Oct. 2. (Mike Morones / Staff)
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Beth Cobert testifies about her nomination to be deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budge Oct. 2. / Mike Morones/Staff
President Obama’s choice for a top post at the Office of Management and Budget won bipartisan praise at her Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.
“Your skill set is exactly what I think this government needs,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told consultant Beth Cobert, in line to become OMB’s deputy director for management. The job has been vacant since Jeff Zients left at the end of April; if confirmed, Cobert, a senior partner with McKinsey and Co., would also become the government’s chief performance officer.
Obama nominated Cobert last month. The hour-long hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee offered no surprises. If confirmed, Cobert said, she would press forward with existing OMB initiatives to encourage agencies to consolidate data centers and make more use of strategic sourcing. She also stressed the importance of hiring and holding on to a “first-class federal workforce.”
Cobert has worked at McKinsey since 1984. In written answers to a committee questionnaire, she attributed her selection for the OMB position to her business experience in helping “a wide variety of organizations” improve performance, effectiveness and customer experience. Cobert added, however, that budget uncertainty makes efficient management more challenging. She also drew a distinction between “achieving great management” in the private sector and government.
“There is an inherent flexibility and adaptability in the private sector to respond as the environment changes,” Cobert wrote. “This strikes me as more difficult in the federal government given the lead times in the budget cycle as one example.”
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the committee’s chairman, said he is “eager” to move ahead with Cobert’s nomination, but the panel has not yet scheduled a vote on forwarding it to the full Senate.