OMB’s Kathy Stack’s impact on government shouldn’t be overlooked

K athy Stack retired after 34 years in government on Feb. 20. Most people probably never heard of her, saw her speak or even understand the impact she had on the management of government.

But Stack, who spent the last 28 years at the Office of Management and Budget, was the quiet leader behind the move toward evidence-based decision making over the last few years.

Stack, whose official title was adviser for evidence-based innovation at OMB, led a staff of three people to help agencies use data to make better decisions.

“I was a point in my career over the last year where I said, ‘You know, I’m tired of the grind and there are certain important things that have to get done in government and I can either do it from the outside or do it from the inside, and I was given the opportunity to try and do it from the inside in terms of this focus on evidence,'” Stacks said in May 2014 during an interview on the IBM Business of Government Hour, which runs on Federal News Radio.

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Stack spent six years at the Education Department before coming to OMB where worked on budget policy and management issues.

“As I say farewell, I want to thank you for making my work at OMB so rewarding and so fun,” Stack wrote in an email to colleagues, which Federal News Radio obtained. “You’ve helped turn abstract policy ideas into real-life examples of how the Federal government can innovate in ways that help other levels of government, non- profits, and the public use data and evidence to improve their decisions. Our tiered evidence programs, Partnership Fund pilots, Pay for Success, SSI PROMISE, and Performance Partnership Pilots are just of few of the new program designs we shaped together that are beginning to yield exciting results. In every one of these examples, collaboration across agency lines and levels of government and with non- governmental organizations has been the key to success.”

Stack said she was not heading off into the sunset of retirement, and likely will continue working in the federal community as she has some “intriguing options ahead.”

Along with Stack, Charles McClam, the Agriculture Department’s deputy CIO, retired earlier this month after more than 38 years in government.

“Yes, it has been a long and professionally challenging and rewarding journey; and now I will begin the next chapter of my life building on the past 38 books to write the finale,” McClam said in an email to colleagues.

McClam has been deputy CIO at USDA since 2009 and also worked at the Small Business Administration, the IRS, the Defense Department and the CIA during his career.

Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency finally gets their woman. Ann Dunkin, after waiting for more than a year, is the permanent CIO at EPA.

She had been nominated by President Barack Obama twice and the Senate wouldn’t approve her to be the agency’s CIO and assistant administrator in the Office of Environmental Information.

So EPA officials uncoupled the CIO and assistant administrator position and made Dunkin the permanent CIO.

An EPA spokeswoman said Dunkin remains nominated to be the assistant administrator, and in the meantime, Renee Wynn will continue to function in an acting role.

Dunkin told the Women of Washington program on Federal News Radio that she’s excited to finally be in the permanent role.

This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.

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