Malloy picks DeFronzo to head DAS, lead reorganization

State Sen. Donald J. DeFronzo, D-New Britain, today became the third legislator to join the administration of Gov.-elect Dan Malloy, signing on as commissioner of administrative services, a low-profile agency crucial to the daily operations of government.

DeFronzo, 62, a five-term legislator and former mayor of New Britain, helped lead a policy team for Malloy during the campaign, cementing his relationship with the governor-elect and making him an obvious choice for months for an agency-level appointment.

“Don is extremely well respected on both sides of the aisle and he has a reputation as a no-nonsense, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of guy. I like that,” Malloy said. “That’s exactly the kind of work ethic I want to promote throughout state government.”

Malloy intends to use DeFronzo, who also once ran a non-profit agency in New Britain, to help the administration consolidate agencies and reorganize state government.

“One of the reasons I’ve asked Don to join my administration is to be one of the individuals I will turn to as we seek to reshape the state’s government and how we do business,” Malloy said. “I need his expertise. I need his relationships within government. I need his relationships within the not-for-profit community.”

DeFronzo has been reviewing past reorganization studies of Connecticut government, as well as reviewing actions by other states.

“I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that Connecticut can do better,” DeFronzo said.

The General Assembly now will have at least four vacancies on Jan. 5, the first day of Malloy’s term and the legislative session.

Sen. Andrew J. McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael P. Lawlor of East Haven are joining the Malloy administration, while Rep. James Spallone of Essex has been named as the deputy secretary of the state. Other departures are likely as every statewide constitutional office except treasurer is about to change hands.

Aside from helping reorganize government, DeFronzo will be taking charge of an agency that is invisible when it runs smoothly and can become a thorn to a governor when it does not.

“It traditionally has been an agency that has been the target of a number of newspaper stories about the duplicative nature of services, people getting paid who weren’t supposed to, the state purchasing things it didn’t need,” Malloy said. “And might I add those stories are not without some basis in fact.”

Its responsibilities are broad.

“The best way to describe what they do is saying simply everything: personnel recruitment, fleet operations, procurement of goods and services, human resources, payroll, printing and mailing,” Malloy said. “You name it, they do it.”

DeFronzo is the 5th agency head named by Malloy.

The others are: Ben Barnes, Office of Policy and Management; Joette Katz, Children and Families; Reuben Bradford, Public Safety; and Dr. Jewel Mullen, Public Health.

DeFronzo’s appointment was announced in a hearing room at the Legislative Office Building crowded with well-wishers from New Britain, including the candidate Democrats will run in the special election for his seat: former Rep. Theresa B. Gerratana.

Also today, Malloy made official two other appointments: Colleen Flanagan, the press secretary for the transition, will remain as the director of communications; and Arielle Reich, who was an executive aide to Malloy during his mayoral administration and deputy campaign manager, will be the director of intergovernmental affairs and a special assistant to the governor.