OMB’s Weichert leaving for the private sector

Margaret Weichert, the number two leader at the Office of Management and Budget, is leaving government for the private sector, she confirmed to Federal News Net...

Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, is leaving government, she confirmed to Federal News Network.

Weichert said she will leave for Accenture next month, where she’ll join the company’s commercial practice.

As deputy director for management, Weichert lead the creation and subsequent implementation of the President’s Management Agenda.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed by the team I’ve gotten to work with and the amount we’ve been able to accomplish,” she said in a brief interview. “We are at [a] perfect pivot point to institutionalize this change. I came and asked different questions about how we might do things differently in government. Are we thinking big enough? Those questions haven’t been answered 100%, but we’ve made huge progress in implementing against those ideas. The relay race of change is long and we have great people in place to take it next length of the journey.”

It’s unclear who the president may nominate as her replacement. But based on OMB’s order of succession, Michael Wooten, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, may be the likely acting deputy director for management.

After the DDM, the federal chief financial officer is the third most-senior official at OMB, but the position has been vacant since the beginning of the Trump administration in 2017.

Weichert came to OMB from Ernst & Young in 2018.

She served concurrently for nearly a year as the acting director for the Office of Personnel Management, replacing Jeff Pon in October 2018. Pon was reportedly fired for failing to support the administration’s proposed OPM merger with the General Services Administration, an idea that Weichert initiated and largely spearheaded.

The OPM-GSA merger faced some tough criticism from members of Congress, federal employee organizations and some employees themselves. Today, the merger has been temporarily paused pending a top-to-bottom-review of OPM, its mission and functions by the National Academy of Public Administration.

Weichert left the acting role at OPM in September, once the Senate confirmed Dale Cabaniss to the permanent director’s position.

During her time in government, Weichert helped roll out the federal data strategy, started the administration’s efforts to train employees under the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy and launched the Government Effectiveness Advanced Research (GEAR) Center.

She was also a firm advocate for a more agile and responsive civil service system, which she often said failed to the meet the needs of a modern federal workforce.

“I’m most proud of the fact that we have transformed cynicism about the management agenda,” she said. “I think people believe change is possible, and we are asking tough questions about what that change looks like.”

Russell Vought, OMB’s acting director, thanked Weichert for service.

“She’s been leading the charge to re-think how the federal government can better serve the American people,” he said in a statement. “Through her leadership in developing and executing the President’s Management Agenda and her key insights into transforming organizations, Margaret has put forward solutions that will build a stronger America. On behalf of the entire Office of Management and Budget, I want to express my deepest gratitude for Margaret and wish her all the best in this next chapter.”

Several members of Congress also joined Vought in thanking Weichert for the ideas and direction she brought to government.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) called Weichert a “trusted partner” in Congress’ efforts to modernize the security clearance process.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations called her an “outstanding agent change within Washington, utilizing her business experience to help transform the federal government to better serve the American people.”

The Senior Executives Association credited Weichert for starting “necessary conversations” about the functioning of government and the federal workforce and urged others to pick up the debate where she left off.

“Individuals across government would be wise to continue these essential conversations, which are critical to ensuring the effective deliverance of services to the American public,” Bill Valdez, SEA president, said in a statement. “Improving the functioning of government cannot be done by one person, one department, or one congressional committee. Congress and the executive branch must dedicate significant time, resources and attention to reviewing government operations and advancing the capacity of the federal workforce.”

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