Ex-NASA Boss Back In D.C.

Sean O'Keefe, former Navy and NASA chief, is returning to Washington after a few years running Louisiana State University to take over General Electric Aviation's Washington office. Effective June 2, he'll replace outgoing chief Thomas Cooper, who is retiring after 21 years as the head of the shop responsible for selling engines, including the new Marine One propulsion systems. O'Keefe recently resigned as chancellor of LSU amid a power grab by a new board president. That resignation is effective June 1.

For O'Keefe, it's a return to the familiar. He made his name as the staff director of the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee in the 1980s, clearing the way for his appointment by former President George H. W. Bush as comptroller of the Pentagon. He later served as a Bush Navy secretary. During the Clinton years, he ran management departments at Penn State and Syracuse universities before being tagged by President George Bush as the No. 2 OMB official. He later served as NASA director. He has been rumored to be in the running for a top job in a McCain administration, but this new job very likely ends that speculation. "Sean brings a wealth of experience involving complex public policy issues as well as advanced technology," says Scott Donnelly, president and CEO of GE Aviation. "He takes over the helm of our Washington office at a very dynamic period in aviation history."

By Paul Bedard