President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday named management consultant and former assistant Secretary of the Treasury Nancy Killefer to be his administration’s chief performance officer, saying she would be crucial to restoring trust in government during the economic crisis.
The newly created position aims to make government more efficient, effective and transparent, the Democrat told reporters during a press conference at his transition headquarters in Washington.
“Change and reform can’t just be election-year slogans,” he said. Instead, they must be a “fundamental principle of government.”
Mr. Obama warned, as he has repeatedly since winning the White House Nov. 4, that more tough times are ahead for the economy. He noted the new Congressional Budget Office estimate that the deficit will be $1.2 trillion, and said his economic stimulus plan would “add more.”
“Unless we take decisive action,” even after the economy rebounds, “trillion dollar deficits will be a reality for years to come,” Mr. Obama said, stressing the need for accountability in government and the new performance officer position.
He said his stimulus plan is still being crafted during discussions with Congressional leaders but said it would be “on the high end” of estimates in the $800 billion range over two years, but “not as high as some economists have recommended” because of deficit concerns.
Ms. Killefer, who was a consultant at McKinsey and Co., will work at the Office of Management and Budget.
She told reporters Wednesday she would strive for a more efficient and effective government.
“I will do my best to create a government that works better for its citizens,” she said, adding: “There is an urgency to begin now.”
Mr. Obama also was preparing for a private lunch meeting at the White House Wednesday afternoon with President Bush and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Since Mr. Obama moved to Washington on Saturday, the transition is speeding along, with more lower level announcements coming out by the day and the final inauguration schedule taking shape.
The president-elect is expected to promote his jobs creation and economic stimulus plan in a speech Thursday in Fairfax County.
Mr. Obama takes the oath of office Jan. 20.