- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2001

D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi has appointed Gordon McDonald to serve as interim budget director while the city searches for a permanent replacement for the third time in two years.
Mr. McDonald served as interim budget director last year before Wayne Upshaw was appointed deputy chief financial officer for budget and planning in August. Mr. Upshaw, on loan from the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), resigned abruptly last week amid speculation that his brash style didn't mesh with the more low-key style of his boss, Mr. Gandhi.
But officials in Mr. Gandhi's office said Mr. Upshaw's departure is because of the desire of city officials to make the position a permanent one.
"He's done a great job," said Mr. Gandhi's chief of staff, Stan Jackson. "We had a very successful run in the budget process. Now we're looking to put into place a permanent staff. [Mr. Upshaw] wasn't prepared to resign at the federal level after putting in so many years there."
Mayor Anthony A. Williams praised Mr. Upshaw's performance, saying through a spokeswoman that he "headed us in the right direction and now it's time to make the position a permanent slot and get someone in there for the long term."
Others wondered about the sudden departure and questioned characterizations of the budget director as being aggressive.
"I always found him professional," said city activist Dorothy Brizill. "He knew his budget, which is more than I can say about his predecessors. This is a critical time in the budget cycle and this cannot send high degrees of confidence to Capitol Hill."
Mr. Upshaw, who will transition out of the $130,000-a-year job by Oct. 31, was unavailable for comment. The city pays $72,000 of his salary under the terms of the loan from OMB.
His resignation comes as the District is trying to win full control over its finances by convincing Congress of its stability and ability to manage itself. The city's financial control board, appointed by Congress in 1995 during the city's financial crisis, is due to disband in September.
Mr. Upshaw handled the city's fiscal 2002 budget; Otis E. Williams oversaw the 2001 budget; and former Chief of Staff Abdusalam Omer worked up the 2000 budget.
The city is awaiting congressional approval of its $5.9 billion fiscal 2002 budget.
Congressional sources said Mr. Gandhi has so much support on Capitol Hill that Mr. Upshaw's departure shouldn't affect any decisions lawmakers make about the District in the post-control board era.
Officials in Mr. Gandhi's office said Mr. Upshaw's resignation will not disrupt the budget process.
"We continue to expect no disruption in service," said Mr. Jackson. "We are well prepared to move forward."
D.C. Council members expressed surprise at the announcement of Mr. Upshaw's resignation, praised him and pledged to keep the budget process smooth.
"Wayne did a superb job," said council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat and chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee. "It was the first time the budget process worked well. We are now between budgets so its a good as time as any [to change directors]."
Mr. Evans also credited Mr. Upshaw with developing performance-based budgeting, which ties funding to performance of agencies and initiatives something long desired by the City Council.

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