Obama’s leadership adviser appointed to key HR role

By on 11/02/2021 | Updated on 11/02/2021
Biden has called in one of his predecessor Barack Obama’s HR officials, Pam Coleman, to help restore relationships with the federal workforce. Credit: Adam Schultz/Biden for President/Flickr

US president Joe Biden has appointed an Obama-era personnel official to lead efforts to rebuild relationships between the White House and the federal workforce, following four years of tension and conflict under Donald Trump.

Pam Coleman is to take on the role of associate director for performance management within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) ­– the White House agency that coordinates matters such as personnel across government departments and agencies.

Last week, Biden told a State Department audience that the federal workforce was at the “heart” of everything he intends to do as president. “The main message I want to communicate to you all is whether you’re part of the newest class of foreign service officers or you’ve been here for decades in the civil service or foreign service, or you’re locally employed staff, you’re vital and the strength of our nation depends in no small part on you,” he said.

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Coleman will play a lead role in delivering further efforts by the Biden administration to rebuild the federal workforce. She brings significant experience gained during the Obama administration, when she held various White House roles including special assistant to the president for leadership development, and director of the outreach and recruitment team in the presidential personnel office. Prior to joining the Biden transition team, she was head of the New Mexico state personnel office under Democratic governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

In a statement to website Government Executive, a spokesperson for the OMB said: “The Biden-Harris administration has made it a priority to protect, empower and rebuild the federal workforce, and Pam will play a vital role in this urgent task. A respected and dedicated public servant with significant government experience, Pam is well-equipped to help restore trust with the tremendously talented federal civil workforce and ensure our government works for all Americans.”

Biden has named Neera Tanden, a former head of the Center for American Progress, as his choice to lead the OMB, subject to Senate approval. Coleman’s position requires no congressional confirmation.

Coleman’s appointment follows a series of moves by Biden to turn around the White House’s relationships with civil servants. These include the revocation of ‘Schedule F’ reforms, which risked exposing a large swathe of permanent civil servants to political pressures.

About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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