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Gay man chosen for key post in Obama administration

Tony Grew March 4, 2009

The President of the United States has confirmed that he intends to nominate John Berry as Director of the Office of Personnel Management.

If his appointment is approved by the Senate he will be the most powerful LGBT person in Barack Obama’s administration.

Mr Berry is the current director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park in Washington DC and was assistant Interior Secretary under President Clinton.

If confirmed, he will be “the first openly gay director of OPM and one of the highest-ranking openly gay presidential appointees in history,” according to the Lesbian and Gay Victory Fund, a group that gives financial assistance to LGBT candidates for public office.

OPM is an independent agency that manages the civil service of the United States federal government.

Gay newspaper Washington Blade noted that OPM “oversees the civilian federal workforce, which is about two million members strong, and helps enforce policies put in place under the Clinton administration that bar job discrimination against federal workers based on sexual orientation.”

“From turning around the National Zoo to fostering a more productive work environment at the Department of the Interior, John Berry has a tremendous record of effective management in key public service roles,” President Obama said yesterday.

“I’m confident that he will provide that same leadership at OPM to help ensure that government works for the American people the way it should.”

The White House issued a statement on Mr Berry’s previous experience.

“John began his Federal career as a Legislative Director for U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), a major leader on all issues affecting the Civil Service. John was responsible for overseeing Hoyer’s work Federal employees, and was the primary craftsman behind the locality pay reform, among many other issues affecting pay and benefits of employees and retirees.

“John began his management career at the Department of Treasury, where he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and acting Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement.

“Later in the Clinton administration, John was appointed Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, where he focused on employee partnerships, worklife issues for employees and reversing years of decline by achieving one of the largest budgetary increases in the Department’s 150 year history.

“As Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, John worked with Interior Inspector General, Earl Devaney, to reconcile 20 years of financial records, establish sound management practices, while also conserving over 3 million acres of wildlife habitat through innovative public-private partnerships.

“Most recently, John was hired to turn around the National Zoo, which was labouring under continual reports of issues and problems. In its Accreditation approval last year it was noted that “It is good to see the National Zoo worthy of its name again.”

“John has completed a strategic plan, a mangement reorganisation, and a 20 year capital master plan.”

More: Americas, Employment

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