Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Obama appoints former agent to oversee stimulus

ANTI-CORRUPTION Former secret service agent Earl Devaney is well known for having exposed corrupt dealing by lobbyists in the Interior Department

AP , WASHINGTON

US Vice President Joe Biden looks on as US President Barack Obama speaks to mayors from across the country in the East Room of the White House on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

US President Barack Obama was to announce yesterday a former Secret Service agent who helped expose lobbyist corruption at the Interior Department as his pick to oversee the US$787 billion economic stimulus plan.

Obama was set to name Earl Devaney as chairman of the new Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board, an administration official said on Sunday. US Vice President Joe Biden was also to be given a role coordinating oversight of stimulus spending.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House had not made public the announcement.

Devaney, the inspector-general of the Interior Department, helped turn up disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s dealings at the department. The department’s No. 2 official, Steven Griles, pleaded guilty to charges he lied during congressional testimony based in part on Devaney’s investigation.

Obama has pledged the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board would be an at-large body to oversee how the government spends billions allocated to help the flailing US economy. But with dozens of agencies and departments involved, Obama wanted a central group to independently monitor where those funds are going.

Obama was set to announce Devaney during a meeting yesterday with governors who have largely supported the economic stimulus package because it will direct billions of dollars to their states for schools, roads and technology.

In addition to the Abramoff investigation, Devaney led a separate investigation into workers at the Minerals Management Service, part of the Interior Department. His review found a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” at the Denver and Washington offices of the service. He has served as the inspector-general — or in-house auditor — of the Interior Department since 1999.

Devaney worked as a senior official with the Secret Service, retiring in 1991. He then worked as head of criminal enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency.

A native of Massachusetts, Devaney earned a degree from Franklin and Marshall College.

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