Chilton, Jett to lead Obama team review of USDA

Other News Materials 15 November 2008 02:03 (UTC +04:00)

Two former Agriculture Department officials, Bart Chilton and Carole Jett, will lead an examination of USDA to prepare for the Obama administration, the president-elect's office said on Friday, Reuters reported.

USDA is partway through implementation of the 2008 farm law with some key decisions remaining. Most prominent are how high to set the benchmark for a new revenue-guarantee program and how to tighten rules on farm subsidies.

Chilton was a deputy chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and worked for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle before becoming a commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 2007.

Jett retired in May from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, where she was associate deputy chief and the agency's farm-bill coordinator. She worked on agricultural issues in Indiana for Obama's election.

Additional members of the team are expected soon.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer told reporters on Thursday the review team might begin work as early as Monday.

Obama will take office on January 20. His office indicated he wants a speedy start to his administration. During the campaign, he supported development of new-generation biofuels and a strict $125,000 a year cap on subsidies.

It said teams will complete a thorough review of federal departments so incoming officials can "make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration" and "ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in."

The USDA team will work under David Hayes, former deputy Interior secretary, who oversees energy and natural resources matters. His portfolio includes Agriculture, Interior and Energy departments, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Leading the EPA review are Cecilia Estolano, an environmental lawyer in Los Angeles, Lisa Jackson, head of New Jersey's environmental agency, and Robert Sussman, a former EPA deputy administrator.

In charge of the Interior Department team are Keith Harper, a lawyer specializing in Indian rights, and John Leshy, formerly the head lawyer at Interior.