As President Obama begins his second term, here are some key figures to watch on business issues in the coming months.
Bill Baer, antitrust chief at the Justice Department
Baer, a former partner at the Washington law firm Arnold & Porter, was confirmed as head of the antitrust division in late December without much fanfare. But antitrust experts say Baer, who heads the division that can green light or halt mergers, will be an important figure in the Obama administration — especially as the Affordable Care Act drives consolidation among hospital systems, insurance providers and others in the health care industry.
Ashton Carter, deputy secretary of defense
After spending more than two years as the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, Ashton Carter is well versed in the agency’s wide swath of programs. For defense contractors anticipating cuts, he will be a central figure to watch.
Michael Daniel, the White House’s top cybersecurity adviser
Daniel, who was appointed last year to replace former cybersecurity chief Howard Schmidt, is leading the conversation on the cybersecurity executive order. The much-talked about order, which has yet to materialize, is important because it would set the terms of information-sharing between private sector companies about security breaches. Companies are anxious about it because they’re leery of sharing details about cyber attacks with the federal government or with industry competitors.
Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the President for energy and climate change
Second-term presidents are all about legacy, and energy and environmental policy experts predict the Obama administration will make energy part of it. Coordinating the efforts to push through new rules on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable fuels and other issues that impact corporate America will be Zichal, who is regarded as a trusted adviser to the president and widely respected by industry leaders from the renewable energy sector to the oil industry.
Charles Duross, chief enforcer of foreign bribery law at the Department of Justice
Dubbed by one federal prosecutor-turned-law firm leader as “Mr. FCPA,” Duross is a key enforcer in the federal government’s mission of going after corporations that violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the federal law that bans U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials to further their business interests in their country. It’s an area of the law that has exploded since the 1990s, and continues to boom as the global expansion of U.S. businesses means more and more interaction with foreign officials when doing business abroad.