Obama to name Interior Dept. official to lead stimulus oversight
WASHINGTON - President Obama plans to announce today a former Secret Service agent from Massachusetts, who helped expose lobbyists' corruption at the Interior Department, as his pick to oversee the $787 billion economic stimulus plan.
Obama is set to name Earl Devaney as chairman of the new Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board, an administration official said yesterday. Vice President Joe Biden also will be given a role coordinating oversight of stimulus spending.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House had not made a public announcement.
Devaney, inspector general of the Interior Department, helped turn up disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings at the department. The department's number two official, Steven Griles, pleaded guilty to charges he lied during congressional testimony based in part on Devaney's investigation.
Devaney was born and raised in Reading and briefly worked as a police officer in Massachusetts, he told the Globe in a brief telephone interview from his Maryland home last night, in which he declined to confirm his appointment.
"When I was in college, I was a cop on Cape Cod - not very long - and then went into the Secret Service after that," he said.
Obama has pledged the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board to 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 today with governors, who have largely supported the economic stimulus package because it will direct billions 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.
Devaney earned a degree from Franklin & Marshall College.
John Drake of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Matt Collette contributed to this report.