Glen Lee named DC’s new chief financial officer

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DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) on Monday announced her nominee for the city’s new chief financial officer: Glen Lee, who has spent nearly 30 years in various roles for the city of Seattle, most recently as its finance director.

If confirmed, Lee would become the fifth person to occupy the independent office, which was created in 1995 through federal legislation that also established a financial control board to help oversee the District’s finances. The CFO carries a range of responsibilities, including making revenue projections and operating the city’s financial management system.

At a news conference Monday, Bowser touted advancements in the District’s financial stability in recent years – like reaching a Triple-A bond rating and building up the city’s 60-day cash reserve fund – successes she has attributed to the city’s former CFO, Jeffrey DeWitt , who resigned in March 2021 for a leadership role at the University of Kansas after a near-seven-year run. After DeWitt’s resignation, Bowser picked Fitzroy Lee, the city’s deputy CFO and chief economist, to serve out the remainder of DeWitt’s five-year term, which will end June 30.

Now, she’ll ask Glen Lee, 61, to help the city navigate the economic travails of the pandemic. She pointed to his experience and said that in addition to revenue estimates, he’ll be asked to take on duties that Bowser previously asked DeWitt to take on during his tenure, including a focus on finances for the Metro as well as inventorying the city’s public housing stock as part of the DC Housing Authority’s plan to rehabilitate them.

“I view the District of Columbia chief financial officer as the pinnacle of the finance profession here in the United States,” Lee said. He added that DC is an “exciting city with exciting challenges.”

DC CFO Jeffrey DeWitt to resign next month amid pandemic-tinged budget season

Lee will operate a bigger budget in the District: Seattle’s mayor in December signed a $ 7 billion budget for 2022; on Tuesday, the DC Council will take the second of two votes on a $ 19.5 billion budget for fiscal 2023.

Asked if he was ready to move on from Seattle and take on District functions that are akin to operating a state budget, Lee cited his experience: he began his public finance career in the California legislative analyst’s office before moving to Seattle, where he first worked as a revenue forecaster before spending 11 years as assistant finance director. He has been Seattle’s head finance director since 2010.

“I have a knowledge that provides the appropriate background to handle the broader responsibilities,” he said.

Bowser was also asked Monday about the city’s sole-sourced sports gambling contract, which has been scrutinized for underperforming since DeWitt pushed for the DC Council to approve it in 2019. Bowser said she spoke with Lee “at length” about sports gambling, which is under the purview of the CFO via the DC Lottery.

“I’m concerned generally about the DC Lottery and sports gambling is a part of that,” Bowser said. “I think we’re all going to take a long hard look at what’s happening next.”

Should the nomination be confirmed by the council, Bowser said Fitzroy Lee will return to his previous roles. DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said at the news conference that he expects the confirmation process for Glen Lee to wrap up before the end of June.

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