Rhea S. Suh was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in spring of 2009 as the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Assistant Secretary Suh oversees the human capital, fiscal, business and budgetary management of the Department of Interior, with a $12 billion budget and more than 70,000 employees. She also provides policy leadership for Secretarial initiatives on land conservation, sustainability, international issues, youth engagement and employment and diversity.
Assistant Secretary Suh serves as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Human Capital Officer, and the designated agency official responsible for small and disadvantaged business utilization. In her role as CFO, Suh recently accepted the Association of Government Accountants’ (AGA) annual Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting award, the group’s highest form of recognition in Federal government management reporting. Of particular importance to AGA was Interior’s comprehensive, yet concise, high-level discussion of key performance measures, goals, results, and reasons for shortfalls and costs. This came on the heels of the Department being awarded, for the 14th consecutive year, a favorable audit opinion from KPMG LLP, an independent certified public accounting firm and the Department’s external auditor.
On the small business front, Suh recently announced that the Department has awarded $494 million in contracts to small businesses thus far in Fiscal Year 2011, representing over 50 percent of its contracting dollars, a level maintained for the past three years and almost double the average for other Departments. As part of that initiative, the Department’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization will host or participate in 46 outreach events this year throughout the nation and Puerto Rico, assisting small businesses seeking Federal contracts.
In addition to these duties, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, Suh has overseen the multi-million dollar natural resource damage assessment efforts and co-led the reorganization of
the former Minerals Management Service, resulting in the creation of three new federal agencies. She also established the first ever Chief Diversity Officer and developed training, strategies and
a network of diversity champions across the Department. And under her leadership she has developed an array of “good government” reform efforts, including a major reorganization of IT
infrastructure which will create $500M in savings.
Prior to her current assignment, Assistant Secretary Suh served as a program officer and manager at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and as a program officer at the William and
Flora Hewlett Foundation. In those positions, she planned and managed multi-million dollar conservation initiatives. Most notably, she led the successful effort to help protect 21 million
acres of coastal temperate rainforest, known as the Great Bear Rainforest, in British Columbia.
Her extensive work experience includes teaching high school-level Earth Sciences in the New York City public school system, serving as a consultant to the National Park Service in New
England, and, during the Clinton administration, service as a senior legislative assistant on the staff of Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, where she worked on public lands management and
regulatory issues affecting energy, air and water. Her efforts there included interacting with both political parties to negotiate collaborative approaches on legislation that directly affected the
Presidio Trust, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation area.
Assistant Secretary Suh has been a strong advocate of conservation issues throughout the United States. Her perspective is that the most durable and successful conservation policies are those
that are created with broad public input and local involvement that promote both biological sustainability of natural systems and the economic vitality of local communities.
Suh is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, where she earned a
Masters of Education, Administration, Planning and Social Policy. She was the recipient of both a Fulbright Fellowship and a Marshall Memorial Fellowship.