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Spotlight on Commerce: Michael Phelps, Director of the Office of Budget

Michael Phelps, Director of the Office of Budget

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

I am currently Director of the Office of Budget at the Department of Commerce. That means I am the principal adviser to the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration and other Department officials on all things related to the planning, formulation, execution and defense of the Department’s budget.

I understand that not everyone is a numbers person, but I love this position because of public debates associated with supporting the president’s agenda and, more important, the roles and mission this Department plays in executing those objectives in helping to create an America built to last!

My entire professional career has been in public service. Prior to joining Commerce in March of 2011, I served 33 years in the United States Air Force. My last assignment was Director of Financial Management and Comptroller for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia. As Chief Financial Officer for the largest operational command in the Air Force and the principal financial adviser to the Air Combat Command Commander, I led a 67-person financial management staff that supported a financial network of more than 1,100 people supporting 25 air wings, 1,100 aircraft and approximately 105,000 personnel. I retired from active duty as a colonel in February of 2011 and was given an opportunity to continue my service to the nation here at the Department of Commerce.

I have been fortunate that I’ve had jobs that I truly love. But my success in these jobs is because of the time and effort I’ve invested, personal sacrifices and a commitment to excellence. Also, I have been blessed to have great role models in my life and the strength, guidance and love of a wonderful wife.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, I am mindful of the meaning of Black History Month and always challenge myself to be a positive leader and role model to help any and everyone achieve the best that life has to offer them! As a mentor, I take a “tough love” approach in reminding people as they work to achieve their goals in life—that life is not fair and sometimes “bad things happen to good people.” However, keep in mind that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond. So, it is not about how you start but how you finish!

In short, my success in life is because of hard work, as nothing was just given to me. I’ve found that individuals must do what is right, even if doing what is right is unpopular because this is a core test of what type of individual they are. I try to live by this motto: when it is all said and done just know that people will not remember all of your accomplishment but they will remember how you made them feel!

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Excellent article. I truly

Excellent article. I truly enjoyed reading about Mr. Phelps life time commitment to service.


Engaging the public with the government to understand the economy, and therefore, the world is an excellent way of structuring a United developing world. I am anxious to become an active participant. I encourage the participation of all those who seek a synergistic growth relationship between nations.