Williams' Power Play Puts 8 Deputies in D.C. Agencies

By Morris, Vincent S. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 23, 1997 | Go to article overview

Williams' Power Play Puts 8 Deputies in D.C. Agencies


Morris, Vincent S., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Chief Financial Officer Anthony A. Williams, seeking to extend his control over the District government, has hired eight additional deputies and installed them in every major city agency.

The hirings - which have occurred periodically since February - give Mr. Williams far more influence over the daily operations of the government, because his assistants are now in position to monitor a much wider swath of fiscal activity.

Moreover, the move positions the chief financial officer to challenge Mayor Marion Barry on spending decisions more often than he has in the past.

Though Mr. Williams played down that aspect of the relationship, he said it is certain to create some friction.

"This arrangement wasn't designed for everyone to get along and be happy," Mr. Williams said yesterday. "Those who want to just keep things the way they are and not change a thing won't like it."

Congress, which enhanched the powers of the the chief financial officer when it created the D.C. financial control board in 1995, envisioned Mr. Williams as central to restoring order and stability to the city's finances.

While Mr. Barry appoints the chief financial officer, only the control board can fire Mr. Williams, who has frequently sparred with the mayor as he asserts himself with greater frequency into city affairs.

"I didn't limit the mayor's power. The CFO was created as an independent entity, not as a cheerleader," Mr. Williams added.

The eight deputies will soon be joined by two others. Mr. Williams wants to hire a deputy to oversee finances in the Department of Public Works and someone to watch over the Water and Sewer Authority.

D.C. Council member Frank Smith, Ward 1 Democrat, thinks Mr. Williams' decision to place assistants throughout the government is a wise one.

"If he's going to be responsible for monitoring the budget and spending of these agencies he should have people on site," said Mr. Smith, who added that the information and analysis from Mr. Williams and his assistants is steadily improving.

Mr. Williams recently hired Melinda Jones as chief financial officer for the Department of Employment Services, which was criticized by council members last week for poor performance in placing workers in jobs and spending federal grant money on workers, rather than training.

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