The Hill: Biden VA pick faces ‘steep learning curve’ at massive agency

“President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to face a tough time finding his footing if confirmed to lead the massive agency.”

“Denis McDonough — an unexpected nominee who would become only the second non-veteran to lead the VA — was chosen for his strong grasp of complicated bureaucracy, a workhorse ethic and solid relationships with Obama-era officials from his time as White House chief of staff.”

“But service groups and unions worry that limited firsthand experience with the VA may lead to a slow start for McDonough, 51, if he ends up taking the helm of what’s considered one of the most difficult federal agencies to run due to its sheer size and scope…”

“Biden said he chose McDonough because of his experience in crisis management and his in-depth knowledge of government operations.”

“I think everyone who has ever worked with him knows he is a world class manager with an innate understanding for how government can and must work for veterans,” Biden said at the time of the pick…”

“But McDonough also comes with a reputation as an intense micromanager from his time in the White House. Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director and later defense secretary during the Obama administration, called McDonough a control freak in his 2014 memoir.”

“That kind of management approach isn’t likely to prove successful at the VA, advocates say…” Read the full article here.

Source: Biden VA pick faces ‘steep learning curve’ at massive agency – By Ellen Mitchell, January 2, 2021. The Hill.

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