Behind the Budget: Dr. Julian Harris, OMB Associate Director for Health

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2015 at 7:50 am

“Behind the Budget” is a series of posts featuring audio stories from staffers from across the Office of Management and Budget, discussing aspects of the budget process that most Americans don’t get to see.

In some ways, it’s always budget season for the OMB health policy team: At any point in the year, they’re likely to be either developing, negotiating, or implementing two or three fiscal year budgets at a time. This year’s budget in particular includes a range of proposals, from those that make efficient improvements to health care acess and quality, to those with broader public health implications. That means, for instance, programs that invest in preparedness and disease prevention, efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance, and the NIH-lead effort to accelerate advances in the field of precision medicine.

Meet Dr. Julian Harris, OMB Associate Director for Health.

“Even though OMB is a part of the Executive Office of the President, the majority of the staff at the agency are career civil servants who have worked tirelessly and skillfully to help presidents of both parties deliver on their commitments to the American people.”

The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget will be released on Monday, February 2. You should also check out:

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"A True American Patriot" — President Obama Pays Tribute to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2015 at 7:49 am

President Obama, Vice President Biden and Gen. Martin Dempsey participate in an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary Hagel

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff participate in an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 28, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President traveled to Fort Myer, Virginia yesterday for the Armed Forces farewell ceremony in honor of our 24th Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.

In his remarks, the President acknowledged Secretary Hagel’s courageous work during his lifelong service as a decorated veteran and Secretary:

[T]oday is a celebration of a quintessentially American life — a man from the heartland who devoted his life to America. Just imagine, in your mind’s eye, the defining moments of his life. The kid from Nebraska who, as Marty said, volunteered to go to Vietnam. The soldier outside Saigon, rushing to pull his own brother from a burning APC. The deputy at the VA who stood up for his fellow Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange. The senator who helped lead the fight for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, to give this generation of heroes the same opportunities that he had.

I asked Chuck to lead this department at a moment of profound transition. And today we express our gratitude for the progress under his watch.

Under Secretary Hagel’s direction, our combat mission in Afghanistan has come to an end after more than 13 years. American troops are supporting Afghan forces, leading the coalition to degrade and destroy ISIL, and leading the global fight against Ebola.

And as the President noted, Secretary Hagel has also helped prepare our nation for the future:

In Europe, a stronger NATO is reassuring our allies.  In the Asia Pacific — one of my foreign policy priorities — Chuck helped modernize our alliances, strengthen partnerships, bolster defense posture, improve communication between the United States and Chinese militaries — all of which helps to ensure that the United States remains a strong Pacific power. 

Because Chuck helped build new trust, we’ll expand our defense cooperation with India.  I just demonstrated during my visit there the degree to which that partnership is moving in a new direction.  That’s partly attributable to work that Chuck did.

And the reforms he launched will help make this department more efficient and innovative for years to come.

“Thanks to Secretary Hagel’s guiding hand, this institution is better positioned for the future.”

President Obama delivers remarks during an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary Hagel

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 28, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Before he closed, President Obama expressed his personal admiration for Secretary Hagel’s character, explaining how his personal experiences have helped him connect with the troops like no other Secretary:

Chuck, I want to suggest today that perhaps your greatest impact — a legacy that will be felt for decades to come — has been your own example. It’s not simply that you’ve been the first enlisted combat veteran and the first Vietnam veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense. It’s how your life experience — being down in the mud, feeling the bullets fly overhead — has allowed you to connect with our troops like no other Secretary before you.

You’ve welcomed our junior enlisted personnel to lunch in your office and made them feel at home, and they told you what was really on their minds. When you spoke to our newest sergeant majors about the true meaning of leadership and responsibility, they knew they were learning from one of their own. And in those quiet moments, when you’ve pinned a Purple Heart on a wounded warrior, you were there not just as a Secretary of Defense, but as an old Army sergeant who knows the wages of war and still carries the shrapnel in your chest.

“From sergeant to Secretary, you’ve always been guided by one interest: what you believe is best for America.”

President Obama hugs Secretary Hagel following remarks during an Armed Forces farewell

President Barack Obama hugs Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel following remarks during an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary Hagel at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 28, 2015.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Read the President’s full remarks here, or watch below:

Watch on YouTube

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Only 5 black CEOs at 500 biggest companies

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2015 at 7:49 am

McDonald's CEO retires as sales dip 

The highest echelon of Corporate America just became even more white.

The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald’s leaves just two CEOs who are African-American in the elite Dow 30.

don thompson Don Thompson, McDonald’s outgoing CEO.

A broader sample shows an even more dismal diversity picture. A mere five CEOs are black at the nation’s 500 largest companies, according to a pro-diversity advocacy group.

“Our numbers are going south on us,” said Ronald Parker, CEO of The Executive Leadership Council, an organization that works to boost diversity in corporate America.

That’s no better than two years ago when Thompson took the helm at McDonald’s (MCD). He became the sixth African-American CEO in the Fortune 500. That number peaked in 2007 at seven, according to Richard Zweigenhaft, a Guilford College professor who wrote a book on the subject.

The numbers are especially startling, given that 13.2% of the U.S. population is African American, according to the Census Bureau.

black ceos
Thompson’s retirement leaves just five CEOs who are African-American in the Fortune 500. From left to right, Kenneth Chenault of American Express, Delphi’s Rodney O’Neal, Merck’s Kenneth Frazier, Carnival’s Arnold W. Donald and Ursula Burns of Xerox.

Corporate America’s diversity problems are well-documented. Silicon Valley has been roundly criticized for being mainly white and male, and data show Wall Street hires mostly white and male bankers.

Corporate boards, too, lack racial diversity and are overwhelmingly white. That needs to change, too, Parker said, and boards need to be “very, very intentional and methodical in succession planning.”

“They need to make sure that there are individuals (in the pipeline) who are getting the proper career experiences that will allow them to have the global perspective” to lead multinational companies, he said.

Intel made a splash this month when it unveiled a five-year, $300 million diversity program to build a workforce that mirrors the level of diversity among tech graduates. CEO Brian Krzanich said the company is “missing opportunities” because its workforce doesn’t represent the population.

That’s what Thompson has said. Shortly after his promotion, he said diversity not only boosts the company’s bottom line, but “helps with the menu, too” by bringing new ideas to the table.

Related: How to break into the white male private equity club

Related: Wall Street hires mostly white and male

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Related: McDead? More lousy results from McDonald’s

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