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Obama Names Zients to Lead Government Reorganization

The White House has installed Jeffrey Zients at the helm of a government reorganization effort announced Tuesday by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address.

Zients’ first objective will be to address American trade and exports systems, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement Sunday. Lisa Brown, assistant to the president and staff secretary, will also play a role in shaping the reorganization, Pfeiffer said. Brown served as co-chairwoman of the Agency Review Working Group for Obama’s presidential transition team.

Zients was confirmed in June 2009 as the country’s first chief performance officer and as deputy director for management of the Office of Management and Budget. He served as acting director of the OMB last year and has led the Accountable Government Initiative.

In the private sector, Zients has worked as a chief executive officer, management consultant and entrepreneur. He was CEO and chairman of the Advisory Board Co. and chairman of the Corporate Executive Board, which provide performance benchmarking and best-management practices support to corporations.

“The President believes that we need to reform our government to make it better organized and better equipped to support American competitiveness,” Pfeiffer said in the statement. “We want to ensure that we’re aligning all of the resources we have into negotiating the best agreements, enforcing our trade rights, supporting our exporters and promoting their products.”

New White House Chief of Staff William Daley predicted Sunday that “we’re going look at some fairly easy coming together” on the reorganization.

“This government is structured basically mid-last century, not for the 21st century. There’s enormous duplication. … So I think you’re going to see a very concerted effort by the president,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “No doubt about it, it’s a major task, and we want to work with Congress to make sure we get this right, whatever changes we propose.”