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Obama taps senior aide to oversee policy execution

Saturday - 5/17/2014, 1:20pm  ET

JOSH LEDERMAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama appointed a new White House adviser Friday and charged her with overseeing the execution of major policies like health care, underscoring the growing concern in the West Wing about political problems that have arisen because of poor follow-through.

The White House said Kristie Canegallo will serve as deputy chief of staff and handle a diverse portfolio that will also include the include implementing education policies and managing the drawdown of the war in Afghanistan. Canegallo's promotion comes as Obama's chief of staff Denis McDonough seeks to institutionalize some of the White House's harsh lessons learned from the failed rollout of the enrollment website for the president's signature health law.

"The president has directed that whenever we go through a major event, we capture the lessons learned so that we don't repeat them, and that we adapt," McDonough said. "Given our experience with healthcare.gov, we have determined we need more senior-level focus on implementation and execution."

That was McDonough's same rationale earlier this year when he brought on John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, to serve as a presidential counselor focusing on policy implementation. McDonough also brought on former White House official Phil Schiliro to manage the health care troubles, but Schiliro said he only wanted to stay temporarily. Schiliro's last day on the job is next week, the White House said.

Canegallo has served held multiple posts in the Obama administration, most recently serving as an adviser to McDonough. She worked on the National Security Council throughout Obama's first term, focusing on defense issues and other strategic priorities.

Canegallo came to the White House from the Pentagon. She worked in Iraq as a governance and budget adviser to the Anbar provincial government and at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Jim Miller, a former undersecretary of defense who worked with Canegallo at the Pentagon, said her time overseas helped her develop an intuitive sense of how critical it is to finish the job correctly and on time.

"From strategy to programs and budgets, she understands how to connect the dots and get things completed," Miller said in an interview.

Canegallo will join two other Obama aides at the deputy chief of staff level: Anita Decker Breckenridge, who is in her first month on the job, and Rob Nabors, who has been temporarily dispatched the Department of Veterans Affairs amid troubling allegations about the treatment of patients at VA hospitals.

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Reach Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP and Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC


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