Mayor Vincent Gray believes he has found a replacement for outgoing chief financial officer (CFO) Natwar Gandhi. During a news conference Thursday, the mayor officially announced Jeffrey DeWitt as his choice for CFO.
The mayor selected DeWitt from several candidates recommended by a search committee headed by former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and Dr. Alice Rivlin, who chaired the Control Board that oversaw the city’s financial recovery in the 1990s.
Mr. DeWitt comes to the District from Phoenix, Arizona, where he currently serves as the CFO. If confirmed by the Council, he will oversee a budget more than three times that of Phoenix — which has a current budget of $3.5 billion. The District has an operating budget of $10 billion, with a surplus of $1.5 billion.
Despite the challenges and complexities DeWitt may face in attending to the finances of a much larger government, Mayor Gray said he has full faith in DeWitt’s abilities.
“There is no jurisdiction like the District of Columbia,” Gray said. “We are at once a state, county, municipality and school district all rolled into one. Unless you’ve worked in the District of Columbia previously, you will not have an experience that is identical to that. He comes as close to that as anyone that I have seen in reviewing those that were interested in this position.”
Having pulled Phoenix out of the recession keeping a AAA bond rating, DeWitt himself says he is up for the challenge. He also acknowledged his admiration for the skills that Dr. Gandhi has brought to the position.
“When we were at the CFO forum a couple of years ago, with Dr. Gandhi, we would talk about what we went through. I’m hearing his credit rating and I’m hearing his revenue growing and I’m in the middle of doing cuts and trying to hang on to our credit rating. I was a little enviable of him. I never thought I would be standing here looking at him and possibly being his successor one day.