JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Governor Eric Greitens has announced his long-awaited pick for chief operating officer.
“We’re doing what we told people we were going to do: we’re building a government that works better for you. And we’re building a team to do it,” Greitens said, announcing his pick at Delong’s Incorporated, a steel manufacturer located in Jefferson City. “I’m honored to announce we found a great leader to serve as our COO.”
Just two days after being sworn in as governor, Greitens has signed a new executive order each day. His order on Wednesday creates the position in the Cabinet, and the governor has tapped Drew Erdmann to serve as the state’s first COO.
“Drew Erdmann is a distinguished private sector leader,” Greitens said. “He is a native Missourian and cares deeply about the people in this state.”
Erdmann comes to the position from McKinsey & Company, where he was a partner focusing on private, public and nonprofit sector strategies. Greitens said Erdmann spent the last decade working with governments around the country, making them “do more with less money”.
In 2005, Erdmann served as the National Security Council’s director for Iran, Iraq, and strategic planning. He also was a member of the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff at the US Department of State and senior ministry adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
Erdmann also taught international affairs at Harvard University and George Washington University. He also served as an independent consultant to the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, and Department of State.
“I’m humbled and honored to be here to accept the position of the first COO of the state of Missouri,” Erdmann said. “I know from past experience that public service is a privilege. I’m grateful for this opportunity to serve with Gov. Greitens, his team, and all of the excellent committed public servants in the state of Missouri, and to work hard every day for the citizens of this great state.”
Greitens has long spoken about his intent to cut unnecessary regulations, and it seems that the COO will lead the efforts to do that.
Under the executive order, the COO will oversee operations of the executive departments, which press secretary Parker Briden says will not interfere or take over the duties of the Office of Administration commissioner. Instead, the order says that the COO will focus on making the departments more efficient and effective by collaborating with the departments to identify, develop and implement performance improvement plans.
One of the first duties will be working on the previous day’s executive order, in which the governor put a freeze on business regulations and ordered an audit of the regulations. The COO will lead efforts to “cut waste, fraud, abuse, and redundant services and programs”.
“The mission of the COO is to work with me to make our government work better for you,” Greitens said. “Even when I’m out there responding to an emergency, even when I’m meeting with families and talking to teachers, we want our COO to be waking up every single day thinking about nothing but how to make government work better for you. He’s going to work with us to make sure that every nickel of your tax money is spent well. They’re going to make sure government stays focused on your core priorities.”
The move has also received some criticism, with some lawmakers opposing the creation of the position.
“Running the executive branch is the governor’s job, and only he has the constitutional and legal authority to carry out the duties of his office,” House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said in a release. “The governor certainly is free to hire whatever staff he sees fit to assist him, and if he wants to give them important-sounding titles, that’s fine, too. But this so-called state ‘chief operating officer’ is just another staffer with an empty title and no independent authority.”
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.