Dunleavy announces longtime state employee Amanda Holland will serve as acting director of OMB

OMB Management Director Amanda Holland testifies to the Senate Finance Committee about the Alaska Marine Highway System budget on Feb. 20, 2019. (Screenshot from Gavel Alaska/360North)

Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy announced this afternoon that longtime state employee Amanda Holland will take over as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, temporarily filling the vacancy left behind by OMB Director Donna Arduin as the administration seeks a permanent replacement.

Holland most recently worked as the management director for the Office of Management and Budget, but according to the Anchorage Daily News has 27 years of experience in state employment working with the departments of Administration, Public Safety, Corrections, Commerce and Transportation.

“While we look to fill this role on a permanent basis, I’m excited to have Amanda Holland step in as Acting OMB Director,” the governor said in a prepared statement accompanying the announcement. “Not only does she bring years of knowledge and management experience to the table, she is well-suited to lead OMB and our departments in building out the FY21 budget.”

The position of OMB director does not require confirmation by the Alaska Legislature.

Arduin was removed from the position in mid-September, a decision that Chief of Staff Ben Stevens said was “made unanimously within the leadership of the governor’s office.” Arduin oversaw the creation of the governor’s first budget, which was widely panned for deep, draconian cuts in the name of pursuing a $3,000 PFD without new revenues.

Backlash to the budget helped fuel the recall effort seeking to remove Dunleavy from office.

Arduin was set to be officially off the state’s payroll as of today with the option of transitioning to a contracted adviser position, but today’s announcement says her employment status “has been temporarily extended by two weeks while contract terms to serve as an Advisor to the Administration are worked out.”

According to the ADN, Arduin’s deput, Laura Cramer, has been offered the position but she said she wasn’t interested in either a temporary or permanent basis.

“It’s just not where I’m at personally in my life. It’s not a direction I’m wanting to go in right now,” she told the paper.

Another job announcement

Dunleavy also announced that Deputy Chief of Staff Jeremy Price, a former Americans for Prosperity official and former oil industry lobbyist, has been appointed to the public commissioner seat on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Dunleavy also said that he’s named Price the commission’s chair.

Unlike OMB commissioner, Price’s position will be up for legislative confirmation though he’ll be able to participate and act on meetings until then.

Why the OMB appointment matters

Holland will bring with her some institutional memory and experience dealing with the Legislature that Arduin and the administration, as a whole, were sorely lacked during the first year in office. The administration is underway with the development of the next year’s budget, the first draft of which will be due out in mid-December.

Legislators were excited at the rumors that former Sen. Anna MacKinnon would be taking the job because her institutional knowledge is seen as a potential stabilizing force for what has been a tumultuous first year in office for the governor.

MacKinnon’s prohibited from taking the position due to the Alaska Constitution’s one-year ban on legislators taking a position that they helped create or helped approve a pay raise for during any time in office. MacKinnon wouldn’t be eligible—barring a reinterpretation of the Alaska Constitution—from taking the position until early 2020.

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