WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to announce today a former Secret Service agent who helped expose lobbyists’ corruption at the Interior Department as his pick to oversee the $787 billion economic stimulus plan.
Obama is set to name Earl Devaney as chairman of the new Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board, an administration official said Sunday. Vice President Joe Biden also will be given a role coordinating oversight of stimulus spending.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House had not made public the announcement.
Obama is also working on a plan to cut the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term.
Obama will touch on his efforts to restore fiscal discipline at a White House fiscal policy summit today and in an address to Congress on Tuesday. On Thursday he plans to send at least a summary of his first budget request to Capitol Hill. The bottom line, said an administration official Saturday, is to halve the federal deficit to $533 billion by the time his first term ends in 2013. He inherited a deficit of about $1.3 trillion from former President George W. Bush.
Devaney, the inspector general of the Interior Department, helped turn up disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s dealings at the department. The department’s No. 2 official, Steven Griles, pleaded guilty to charges he lied during congressional testimony based in part on Devaney’s investigation.
Italia Federici, co-founder of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, and former Interior Department official Roger Stillwell also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Interior investigation.
Obama has pledged the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board to be an at-large body to oversee how the government spends billions allocated to help the flailing U.S. economy. But with dozens of agencies and departments involved, Obama wanted a central group to independently monitor where those funds are going.
Obama also planned to tap Biden to meet regularly with Cabinet members, governors and mayors to make sure their efforts were quick and effective. His reports to Obama are expected to be posted at the administration Web site devoted to the bill, Recovery.gov.
Obama was set to announce Devaney during a meeting today with governors, who have largely supported the economic stimulus package because it will direct billions to their states for schools, roads and technology.