FED FACES

A top watchdog on foreign affairs

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, managing director, international affairs and trade, Government Accountability Office

Best known for: As the inspector general at the State Department and now as a watchdog for Congress at the Government Accountability Office, Williams-Bridgers has led inquiries and evaluations of American foreign-affairs programs and activities including public diplomacy, development assistance, international security and nuclear nonproliferation. She is known for being smart, tough and a problem-solver.

Government service: After finishing graduate school in 1978, Williams-Bridgers spent five years working for the GAO in the housing and community development program, followed by a one-year stint with the inspector general at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She returned to the GAO and served in a variety of roles: monitoring disaster assistance, small business and transportation issues before getting confirmed by the Senate in 1995 as the inspector general for the State Department. She moved to the private sector in 2001, but returned to the GAO in 2003 as the managing director for strategic planning and external relations before becoming the managing director of the 140-member international affairs and trade team.

Biggest challenge: "Making sure that my exceptionally skilled staff feels well supported, that they are enabled to be creative and innovative, and that they have the tools they need to do their job and communicate their investigative findings."

Quote: "We try to speak truth to power. Our client is Congress -- the decision makers -- and we try to ask the tough questions and provide them with the information they may not have."

-- From the Partnership for Public Service

For more on Williams-Bridgers, visit www.washingtonpost.com/fedpage.

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