Greitens picks consulting firm partner as Missouri’s COO

January 11, 2017
Gov. Eric Greitens, right, arrives for a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Jefferson City, Mo., to announce his selection of Drew Erdmann, background left, as the state's first chief operating officer. Greitens chose Erdmann from major consulting firm McKinsey and Company, which has done work for the Pentagon, for the job. (Julie Smith/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A partner at a global management consulting firm was announced Wednesday as the person to fill the state’s new chief operating officer position that Republican Gov. Eric Greitens created through an executive order.

Greitens chose Drew Erdmann from major consulting firm McKinsey and Company, which has done work for the Pentagon.

“Our government needs to do more with less. They are supposed to serve you,” Greitens said during an announcement at a Jefferson City steel manufacturing business. “The mission of the COO is to work with me to make our government work better for you.”

The governor, who took office Monday, did not take questions from reporters.

The COO, who will report to Greitens, is supposed to work with state agencies to cut redundant programs and improve efficiency.

Spokesman Parker Briden said the position won’t change the responsibilities of Administration Commissioner Sarah Steelman, whose office manages state government. Briden said Erdmann will be “intimately involved” in a review of state regulations ordered by Greitens on Tuesday.

The position was met with skepticism from a top Democratic lawmaker.

“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,” House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty said in a Wednesday statement. “But this so-called state ‘chief operating officer’ is just another staffer with an empty title and no independent authority.”

Erdmann, of St. Louis, previously worked as the National Security Council’s director for Iran, Iraq and strategic planning in 2005 under former Republican President George W. Bush. He also was a member of the policy planning staff of the State Department from 2001-2003 under former Secretary Colin Powell and senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Greitens also was in the White House under Bush as a fellow from 2005-2006.

Both Erdmann and Greitens studied at Oxford University in England. Erdmann received a bachelor’s in philosophy, politics and economics in 1990. Greitens later earned a master’s degree in development and a doctoral degree in politics.

Erdmann, who declined to comment to The Associated Press on his salary, said he’s looking forward to “waking up every single day and working on the behalf of the great fellow citizens of this state to make the government work better for them.”