Mayor Marion Barry named Carol B. Thompson, director of the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, as his chief of staff yesterday in the latest of a string of high-level District government personnel moves.
Thompson, 34, will become chief of staff -- a post created in 1983 but left vacant most of the time since then -- on April 28 and DCRA Deputy Director Donald G. Murray Jr. will become acting director of the agency at that time.
In a prepared statement, Barry, who is in Atlantic City, N.J., for a meeting of the National Conference of Black Mayors, said Thompson will have primary responsibility for the "day-to-day operations of the Executive Office of the Mayor."
"In that capacity, she will be the chief facilitator for decision-making at the mayoral level and assure the proper utilization of my time," he said in the statement.
Thompson, who receives $65,930 as an agency director, is a rising star in the Barry administration, starting in late 1978 as a member of Barry's transition team in the months before he assumed office. Since then, she has served a special assistant to the director of the Department of Housing and Community Development and as acting director of the now-defunct department of licenses, investigations and inspections.
Describing herself as "happy and pleased and honored" to receive the appointment, Thompson said she expected to bring a sharper "managerial focus" to the mayor's office.
"There are so many major issues that are hitting now that there needs to be someone who makes sure all the bases are being hit," she said. "I think clearly corrections is a key issue and the mayor is showing he is moving forward in that area. I think housing is another issue and I think ethics is an issue that is in the forefront."
Dwight Cropp, director of the office of intergovernmental affairs, said the naming of a chief of staff reflected Barry's desire to improve coordination of his office and manage the flow of information.
"This is really the first time he'll have a focus point in his office," he said. "The idea is this will be a place information converges and primary decisions will be made about priorities."
Other major personnel changes in recent months include the resignation under fire of deputy mayor for finance Alphonse G. Hill, who acknowledged receiving $3,000 in payments from a city contractor; and the resignations of Matthew F. Shannon, former director of the Department of Employment Services, and James George, that agency's deputy director.
Also, on Wednesday, Barry announced the appointment of Hallem Williams Jr. and Walter B. Ridley to the posts of D.C. corrections deputy director and associate director, respectively. Gladys W. Mack, a longtime Barry aide serving currently as his general assistant, was named to take Ridley's place chairing the D.C. Parole Board, effective Monday.
The recent round of high-level changes, coming on the threshold of an expected campaign by Barry for a third term, follows a retreat for the Barry cabinet at a Reston hotel last Friday and Saturday. Annette Samuels, press secretary to the mayor, said yesterday she was unaware of any further personnel changes planned.
Although Thompson is highly regarded by the mayor, her management of the consumer and regulatory affairs agency came under fire from D.C. City Council Chairman David A. Clarke during the budget review process in February. Clarke accused a division of the department of "gross underachievement" in its child care facility and health care practitioner inspections, clinic visits and adult care inspections.