U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

We’re hearing that Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry is the leading candidate to be U.S. ambassador to Australia.

Berry had been seen as a possible pick for Interior secretary back in 2008 and again in this cycle — but that nomination went most recently to Sally Jewell.

Berry has had a long career in government, starting on the Hill as legislative director for Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md. ) from 1985 to 1994.

Berry is now up to his eyeballs in sequesterland chaos, so it was not clear when any announcement might be made.

Berry has also been assistant secretary of Interior, head of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and director of the National Zoo before taking his current job.

In 2009, the Human Rights Campaign said that, as head of OPM (once called the U.S. Civil Service Commission), Berry was the “the highest-ranking openly gay official” ever to serve in the executive branch.

We’ve written that President Obama is also looking to name his 2012 campaign fundraising chairman Rufus Gifford, who is also openly gay, to be ambassador to Denmark.

Australia is a key ally in the Pacific, of course, and Canberra’s temps this week look to be in the high 70s and sunny.