WASHINGTON—The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Tuesday held a hearing on the nominations of Tara J. O’Toole to be Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Jeffrey D. Zients to be Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

O’Toole is currently Director and CEO of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center and stated that, if confirmed, she will work with the Committee to improve the security of our nation’s biological labs that work on dangerous pathogens. Zients previously served as CEO and Chairman of The Advisory Board Company and Chairman of the Corporate Executive Board, which are both providers of performance benchmarking and best practices.

“Ms. O’Toole has built a distinguished record of professional achievement as a medical doctor, a technology issues analyst, a federal administrator and a researcher and leader of a non-profit foundation,” Lieberman said. “President Obama has made a wise decision in her nomination.

“I’m also pleased that President Obama has made the drive toward management excellence a top priority across the government and that, if confirmed, Mr. Zients would also serve as the first ‘Chief Performance Officer’ of the federal government. He has spent most of his career devising ways to improve governance, organization, management, efficiencies and the financial systems of companies and now we will look forward to him developing best practices in those areas for federal departments and agencies.”

Collins said: “When the Department of Homeland Security was established, Congress recognized the important role that technology must play in securing our nation and created a Science and Technology Directorate to undertake research and development activities. Today, the Department is developing technologies on a variety of fronts, including biological, chemical and explosives detection, communications interoperability, and passenger and cargo screening. The next Under Secretary for Science and Technology will also need to align DHS research and development priorities with the greatest security vulnerabilities that our nation faces and ensure close coordination with DHS operational components and other federal, state, and local partners.

“OMB has a two-pronged mission. In addition to overseeing the preparation and implementation of the federal budget, OMB oversees federal procurement, financial management, information technology, and regulatory policies across the executive branch. A major OMB responsibility is the oversight of approximately $71 billion in spending on information technology investments. It is unacceptable that federal agencies have identified more than 450 IT projects, totaling more than $26 billion for fiscal year 2009, as poorly planned, poorly performing, or both. If confirmed, Mr. Zients will need to call on his experience if he is to serve effectively as the Deputy Director for OMB and Chief Performance Officer.”

Both nominees must be reported out by the Committee before they can go before the full Senate for confirmation.