OPM Chief John Berry: The next interior secretary?

(Astrid Riecken/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST) (Astrid Riecken/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Federal employees may know John Berry  as the face of the workforce in his role as director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Berry, 53, is now expected to be considered by the Obama administration to replace Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who confirmed early Wednesday that he will leave his post in March and return to Colorado.

Read our profile of Berry in last September’s Style section.

Interior secretaries generally hail from the West, and Berry, a Rockville native, does not. But the president is under intense pressure from gay activists to appoint an openly gay secretary to his cabinet, a historic move. And Berry fits the bill.

He also has experience, serving at Interior during the Clinton administration as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget then moving to direct the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Zoo during the second Bush administration. Obama tapped Berry to run OPM in 2009.

Berry told the Post in an e-mail Wednesday morning, “I stand ready to serve this President in whatever capacity that he feels helpful.”

His likely competition includes former Washington state governor Chris Gregoire (D), former congressman Norm Dicks (D-Wash), former North Dakota senator Byron Dorgan (D), former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) and Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes. A less likely contender is Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.

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