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Politics / Government Operations

Recovery Board Chairman to Step Down

December 1, 2011

Government Executive is part of the National Journal Group Inc. and the Atlantic Media Company. From time to time, Government Executive and National Journal will share content and collaborate on features and events.

Earl Devaney, the chairman of the board set up to oversee more than $800 billion in federal economic stimulus efforts under the 2009 Recovery Act, will step down from his position at the end of the year.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Devaney plans to retire to Florida with his wife and will seek part-time work consulting or serving on corporate boards.

As head of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, Devaney is credited with shifting the focus away from tracking down fraud in federal spending after it occurs to proactively monitoring funds as they are disbursed.

 

The Recovery Board set up a website, Federalreporting.gov, to collect information from states and recipients of federal grants and contracts under the Recovery Act, bypassing the traditional federal reporting process. The data then fed into a public-facing site, Recovery.gov, that reported on who was getting the money. Among other innovations, that site used geospatial technology to allow citizens to track the impact of stimulus spending in their own neighborhoods.

Earlier this year, President Obama named Devaney to head up the Government Accountability and Transparency Board, designed to take lessons learned from the recovery tracking effort and apply them to overall efforts to cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending.

Devaney has pushed for the creation of a uniform, government-wide numbering system for all contract and grant awards, to replace the multiple systems now in place across government.

Devaney started his federal career in the Secret Service in 1970, where he worked until 1991 as special agent in charge of the Fraud Division. He later spent eight years as the Director of the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training for the Environmental Protection Agency.

In 1999, President Clinton appointed Devaney to be the inspector general of the Interior Department. There he oversaw the public corruption investigations that led to the convictions of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Interior Deputy Secretary Steven Griles, and presided over the oil and gas investigations involving the Minerals Management Service from 2007 to 2009.

When President Obama appointed Devaney to head the Recovery Board in February 2009, he said, "I can't think of a more tenacious and efficient guardian of the hard-earned tax dollars the American people have entrusted us to wisely invest."

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