This will be Zients’s second turn as acting director of the agency responsible for crafting the White House federal budget proposal and handling various government management concerns. Though Zients has no federal budget-writing experience, he led last year’s review of plans to reorganize federal agencies and the drafting of contingency plans ahead of last year’s threatened government shutdown.
“Since day one, Jeff has demonstrated superb judgment and has provided sound advice on a whole host of issues,” Obama said in a statement announcing the move. “With decades of experience, Jeff has been a tremendous asset to our team and I’m confident in his ability to help us rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility pay off and the middle class has a chance to get ahead.”
Zients, 45, takes over for Jacob J. Lew, who was tapped this month to replace departing White House Chief of Staff William Daley. The appointment does not require Senate confirmation.
A Washington native, Zients (whose last name rhymes with “pints”) attended the St. Albans prep school and graduated from Duke University. He briefly worked at the consulting firm Bain & Co. in Boston and later returned to Washington, where he became a close confidant of David G. Bradley, owner of Atlantic Media and founder of the Corporate Executive Board.
“I’ve had 6,000 colleagues, and he is the most impressive aggregation of talent I’ve ever worked with,” Bradley said of Zients in an interview last year.
Zients first earned attention in the Washington area after unsuccesfully leading a team of investors who sought to buy and operate the new Washington Nationals baseball team. In an interview last year, he did not rule out bidding for another professional sports team in the future.
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