According to the Wall Street Journal:
President-elect Barack Obama will appoint former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker on Wednesday to be the chairman of a new White House advisory board tasked with helping to lift the nation from recession and stabilize financial markets, Democratic officials say.
University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee, one of Mr. Obama’s longest-serving policy advisers, will serve as the board’s staff director, along with his duties as a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Members of the panel will be drawn from a cross-section of citizens outside the government, chosen for their independence and nonpartisanship.
The board’s mission won’t be to supplant the policy-making role of the Treasury Department and other agencies, but to give Mr. Obama an official forum for getting expert advice outside the normal bureaucratic channels. It will give briefings to the president.
The panel, called the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, is modeled on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board established by then-President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, at the height of the Cold War, when officials worried that that the existing bureaucratic structure was inadequate to help the U.S. keep pace with the Soviet threat. The financial crisis has drawn similar worries that the government isn’t properly organized to monitor and respond to modern financial markets.
There is another group that the President-elect should also appoint in the near future. Section 1006 of the America COMPETES Act creates a President’s Council on Innovation and Competitiveness (PCIC). Made up of the heads of the departments and agencies involved in the innovation and competitiveness agenda, it is chaired by the Secretary of Commerce. The purpose of the Council is to develop a comprehensive strategy and oversee the implementation of that strategy. The law also calls for an advisory board to help the Council in crafting this strategy. This group, which I will call the Innovation and Competitiveness Advisory Board (it is not named in the law), is to be made up of individuals from a variety of background — business, labor, technical/scientific and other.
The two groups would make an excellent compliment: the Economic Recovery Advisory Board would look at the short-term problems while the Innovation and Competitiveness Advisory Board would look at long-term solution.
The America COMPETES Act calls for the National Academy of Sciences, in consultation with the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, to recommend individuals to serve on the advisory board. The President-elect should ask the National Academies to immediate begin the compilation of names of individuals to serve on the advisory board, so that it can begin its work on day one.
Creation of these two advisory boards would be quite the one-two punch!