Governor Donald L. Carcieri today announced his intention to nominate Jerome Williams as Director of the Department of Administration and Michael Lewis as Director of the Department of Transportation. Both nominations are subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate.
The current Director of the Department of Administration, Beverly Najarian, will join the Governor’s office as Deputy Chief of Staff. Najarian has served as Director since 2004, when she replaced the previous Director, Robert Higgins. As Director, Najarian successfully improved services and reduced taxpayer costs by renegotiating the state employee health contract, negotiating new state employee labor contracts and implementing reforms at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Williams has served as Department of Transportation Director since 2007. Previously, he served as Executive Director of the Department of Administration from 2003 to 2007 and as Deputy Director from 1986 to 1994.
Since 2000, Michael Lewis has served as the Project Director of the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (The Big Dig) at the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. He assumed control over the project after cost overruns were identified. He was responsible for the project’s successful completion.
“First and foremost, I want to thank Beverly Najarian for all her hard work over the last four years,” the Governor concluded. “Running the Department of Administration is a thankless task that requires both skill and determination to succeed despite the many obstacles people put in your way. Beverly has had the courage to fight through those obstacles and Rhode Islanders have benefited tremendously from her efforts. She has been an excellent public servant and every Rhode Island taxpayer owes her a debt of gratitude. I’m pleased that she has agreed to continue to serve my administration in another capacity.”
“Over the next three years, Rhode Island will be challenged to continue the state government efficiency reforms we’ve already started and to continue rebuilding the state’s highways and bridges,” Governor Carcieri said. “Jerry Williams and Mike Lewis are the right people to help us tackle those challenges and to build on Beverly’s many achievements.”
Under Williams’ leadership, RIDOT opened up the first section of the Iway to motorists, opened the new Berkley-Martin Bridges and reopened the Blackstone River Bikeway, and created a Customer Service office. He also reduced overtime at the department by $2 million, consolidated RIDOT’s Transportation Management Center and Maintenance’s dispatch services into one 24-hour operation saving $500,000 annually, and streamlined winter maintenance operations saving the state $2.7 million.
“During the last year, Jerry Williams has worked extensively to institute better management controls at the Department of Transportation,” Carcieri said. “He has value-engineered a number of projects and renegotiated contracts saving over $40 million for taxpayers. He also eliminated a projected $5 million operating departmental deficit in last year through effective management. He has reformed the contracting process. And he has kept several major highway projects – including the I-195 relocation project – moving forward on schedule. In short, Jerry has served with success, honor and distinction.”
“Having previously served as the second in command at the Department of Administration – where he helped spearhead reforms to the state pension system – Jerry is the perfect candidate to oversee that important state agency,” Carcieri continued. “As Director, Jerry will lead my continuing efforts to make state government run more effectively for the citizens we serve and more efficiently for Rhode Island taxpayers.”
“As the Project Director of the Big Dig – the largest and most complicated transportation project in American history – Mike Lewis has the talent and the experience necessary to help Rhode Island maintain and improve the state’s system of highways and bridges,” Governor Carcieri said. “Rhode Island’s major highways and bridges will require serious rehabilitation in the coming years. We’ve already seen signs of that in the I-95 bridge in Pawtucket. Unfortunately, most of Rhode Island’s other bridges were built at the same time.”
“Rebuilding Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure will be a massive undertaking for our little state,” Carcieri said. “To succeed, we need someone with experience dealing with challenges of that magnitude. I can think of no-one better than Mike Lewis, who managed to move the Big Dig from disarray to completion in seven years. His talent is highly praised by the Federal Highway Administration, and I believe he will do an excellent job making sure our roads and bridges are safe and sturdy for decades to come.”
In addition to his service at the Departments of Administration and Transportation, Jerome Williams was a Senior Vice President at Fleet Boston Financial from 1994 to 2003. He also served as Deputy General Treasurer. He earned his undergraduate degrees in Accounting and Institutional Management, as well as an MBA, from Bryant College. In 2006, Williams received the Robert M. Goodrich Award for Distinguished Public Service from the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC).
Since 1983, Michael Lewis has served in various roles for Commonwealth of Massachusetts. From 1984 to 1992, he served as an engineer at the Massachusetts Highway Department. Between 1992 and 1999, Lewis worked on the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, rising to the position of Deputy Project Director. He was appointed Project Director in April 2000 and held that position until the project was completed in 2007.
As Director of the Department of Administration, Beverly Najarian achieved numerous important reforms that improved the way services are delivered to citizens while reducing the costs to Rhode Island taxpayers. For instance, Najarian managed the highly successful bid, award and implementation of a new state employee health plan that saved approximately $40 million for taxpayers while maintaining a high quality of service without disruption to the state employees. She oversaw the successful implementation of a new financial system that for the first time in many years enables the Auditor General to produce audit reports on time.
Najarian also spearheaded significant improvements at the Division of Motor Vehicles by dramatically expanding on-line services and by providing additional outlets at AAA. Finally, Najarian was instrumental in the arbitration of state employee union contracts, leading for the first time in history to the co-sharing of health benefits by state employees.