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Jay presents Hinton native budget nominee to panel

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a native of Hinton, to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday.

The White House nominated Burwell to be its new director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

"I can tell you that Sylvia is brilliant," Rockefeller said. She won't tell you that because she is modest, but I will. Sylvia graduated from Harvard and was a Rhodes scholar, but she has never forgotten her West Virginia roots.

"She is humble, she is hard-working, she has integrity and she remains devoted to helping our nation's hardworking families achieve the American dream, just as her Greek immigrant grandparents did so many years go."

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said, "Burwell also brings valuable leadership skills from the private sector, where she has run two of our nation's largest philanthropic foundations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walmart Foundation.

"In all of the jobs she has held over the years, Ms. Burwell has shown a great work ethic and intellect, and a strong business perspective," Carper said.

The OMB, Carper said, has not had a Senate-confirmed leader since last January, when Jack Lew resigned to become White House chief of staff.

Rockefeller praised Burwell's work on the federal budget during the late 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president, as well as her past service to the Treasury Department and the OMB.

Rockefeller, who introduced Burwell to the Senate Committee 15 years ago after she was nominated as OMB's deputy director, added, "Sylvia is a proud native of Hinton -- an historic railroad community nestled in the mountains of Appalachia that has had more than its fair share of economic hardships.

"Though she could have made a fortune in the corporate world, Sylvia has spent the majority of her life in public service or working at organizations that are dedicated to lifting up struggling families and communities."

Chairing Tuesday's hearing, Carper said he has grown increasingly concerned about vacancies, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, in major administrative posts like the OMB director.

"This problem has become so prevalent that I've started referring to it as 'executive branch Swiss cheese.'

"At any given moment we are lacking critical leadership in numerous positions in just about every agency, undermining the effectiveness of our government."

Carper said his Senate committee is "an important partner" with OMB.

"Both Congress and the executive branch bear equal responsibility in rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in government programs, Carper said.

"Both bear responsibility in ensuring that we measure the performance of programs and alter or end those programs that do not work, or have outlived their usefulness. Both bear responsibility for providing transparency to the public on how our tax dollars are spent."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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