Morrison no longer interested in top Social Security job

April 03, 1993|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- James Morrison, the choice of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala to head the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn, has withdrawn from consideration, citing frustration with the lengthy White House personnel process.

The search for a commissioner now must begin again, said an HHS official who asked not to be identified.

Rep. Kweisi Mfume, a Democrat who represents the Woodlawn area, said he and other House members he would not identify are urging Ms. Shalala to consider Janice L. Warden, a deputy Social Security commissioner. He termed her a "rising star" at the agency and said it would be a "shame" if she weren't considered.

The Clinton administration has been slow to fill a number of top jobs in government, although the pace has been picking up. White House officials had no immediate comment on Mr. Morrison's case.

"Regrettably, I have concluded that the process required to reach a final decision for presidential nominations is simply too lengthy and too uncertain" for a "self-employed business person," Mr. Morrison said in a letter Tuesday to Ms. Shalala. "Therefore I respectfully request that you and President Clinton not consider me further for this position."

Mr. Morrison, 57, is a lobbyist for organizations such as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. He disclosed the letter yesterday when contacted by a reporter, but would not comment.

Social Security employs 14,000 people at its Woodlawn and downtown Baltimore offices. The commissioner's job pays $115,700 a year and is being filled on an acting basis by Louis D. Enoff, principal deputy commissioner.

Mr. Morrison, a Democrat, was associate director of the federal Office of Personnel Management during the Reagan administration. He worked at the Office of Management and Budget under President Carter.

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