Gray picks technology expert to hunt out wasteful spending

Mayor Vincent C. Gray is tapping Suzanne Peck, former chief technology officer for the District and, more recently, Metro, to scrub city government of wasteful spending and to find new non-tax revenues.

Gray (D) is calling the effort the “One City Performance Review,” a play on the “One City” campaign slogan that has become the theme and logo of his administration. He said Peck’s task is all about “right-focusing” the government. “In speaking to the public, I’ve stressed that we can’t afford to keep doing business as usual in hopes that our finances will dramatically improve,” Gray said in a statement.

The selection of Peck, a major fundraiser for Gray’s campaign last year, was unveiled during an unusual news conference Tuesday, during which the audience saw a taped message from former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell (D) and a live video feed from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D). Peck performed similar reviews in those states to generate revenue and cut spending.

Rendell called Peck a “tough-as-nails leader.”

Peck, who built her wealth working in technology for private companies and is known for her philanthropy, will work pro bono and will report to City Administrator Allen Y. Lew. She said the first efficiency and savings would be demonstrated in not having paid staff. She said she will rely on agency heads and on experts who also will work pro bono.

Earlier this year, Peck retired from Metro, where she had worked after serving as the city’s chief technology officer under then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams. Her tenure was not without controversy, drawing praise for a successful Y2K conversion but criticism for awarding no-bid contracts.

Peck said she did not have the authority to approve the contracts, but that the Office of Contracting and Procurement did. She added that the contracts had been "pre-competed."

This story has been updated.

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