House Chief Administrative Officer Resigns

Posted July 1, 2010 at 4:25pm

Updated: July 2, 12:34 a.m.

House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard resigned Thursday evening, hours after House appropriators moved to withhold $20 million from his budget.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she accepted the resignation and praised his service in a statement.

“It is with gratitude that we recognize Dan’s contributions to the House: spearheading the ‘Green the Capitol’ initiative and leading the development of online transparency efforts on Member expenses, among other achievements. As we go forward, we will continue to ensure the House of Representatives is run smoothly and efficiently, maintaining our commitment to transparency, energy conservation and accountability.”

Pelosi said she will work with House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) to “ensure a smooth transition” for the office. Beard will continue as CAO until July 18, according to a spokesman for the Speaker. Beard’s replacement will have to be nominated by Pelosi and then elected by the House.

House lawmakers working on the fiscal 2011 legislative branch appropriations bill decided earlier Thursday to withhold $20 million from Beard’s budget. The move came in response to a recent House Inspector General report, which found low morale, miscommunication and turnover in the CAO’s Office of Payroll & Benefits and Office of Financial Counseling.

The appropriators outlined several requirements for Beard to meet before getting his full budget, including implementing a user satisfaction survey for the payroll and financial counseling divisions.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, said Thursday night that Beard made the right decision by stepping down. “It was a long time coming,” she said.

While Wasserman Schultz said she appreciates Beard’s record of public service, she said there were many occasions where he failed to address the concerns of employees and Members. “There were things he was directed to do that didn’t get done,” she said.

In an e-mail to CAO employees Thursday, Beard wrote that he offered his resignation “to pursue other interests and spend more time with my grandkids.” Details on the transition to a new CAO will come in the “not so distant future,” he said.

“I leave in full admiration and respect of the hard work and commitment you, the employees of the CAO, give this organization every day,” he wrote in the e-mail, which was obtained by Roll Call. “We accomplished some truly amazing things over the last three and a half years, and I am very proud of these shared achievements.”

Tensions between Beard and his staff rose this week, with Beard dismissing the Inspector General report as “an inaccurate and unbalanced snapshot” of the payroll and financial counseling divisions that was based on “unattributed misinformation provided by a handful of staff.” Those employees, he said, were “dreamers.”

The House Administration Committee didn’t agree, with both Brady and ranking member Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) publicly calling for Beard to adhere to the Inspector General’s recommendations. But after Beard’s resignation Thursday, Brady released a statement commending him for his “distinguished service.”

Beard “deserved our thanks for his commitment to this institution,” Brady said.

“Under his direction, the House commenced several key initiatives, including the highly successful Green the Capitol program,” Brady added. “Dan also made our information systems safer and faster. He played a key role in our transparency initiatives, putting the Statement of Disbursements online.”

But Lungren hinted at criticism that Beard’s focus on greening efforts has strayed from the office’s core mission of providing services to Members and staffers.

“I fully understand and strongly agree with Mr. Beard’s decision to resign,” Lungren said in a statement. “I stand ready to work with Chairman Brady to return the office of the CAO back to its primary mission, which is assisting Members so that they can best serve their constituents.”