Gov. Dannel P. Malloy named a veteran state human relations officer as the new head of support services for Connecticut’s watchdog agencies, replacing an administrator whose two-year tenure was marked by conflict.

Shelby J. Brown of East Hartford will begin her new assignment as executive administrator at the Office of Government Accountability in an acting capacity Jan. 10. The General Assembly will consider her appointment in the 2014 session, which convenes Feb. 5.

Brown replaces David L. Guay, who clashed with the state’s watchdog agencies over their ability to supervise and evaluate his performance.

“The offices within OGA carry important functions of state government that are crucial to ensuring transparency, efficiency and fairness,” Malloy said.  “… I congratulate Shelby on this appointment and am confident in her ability to work collaboratively with each component of the agency.”

According to state law, the governor may appoint an executive administrator only from a pool of finalists prepared by the Governmental Accountability Commission. That nine-member panel comprises one representative from each of the nine watchdog agencies within the Office of Governmental Accountability.

According to a source close to the process, the commission listed Brown as its first choice on a prioritized list of five finalists sent to the governor.

“I think Shelby will be a terrific executive administrator, and I look forward to working with her,” said Anthony J. Castagno, chairman of the State Elections Enforcement and Governmental Accountability commissions.

Brown possesses “very strong leadership capabilities and a real understanding of the position and what it takes to interact with nine agencies and the commission,” Castagno said.

The SEEC chairman added that the office was fortunate to have a very strong pool of finalists for the executive administrator’s job. “I would have been happy with any of the five,” he said.

“It is certainly an honor to receive this appointment,” Brown said.  “The nine regulatory agencies of OGA serve unique, but very important functions for the people of the state of Connecticut. I am highly impressed by the energy and commitment of these offices, boards and commissions and look forward to working with them to continue defining this young agency.”

The Office of Governmental Accountability was created as a cost-saving measure in 2011 as Malloy and the legislature struggled to close a projected state budget deficit approaching nearly one-fifth of all annual operating costs.

One of several consolidations in that budget plan, this merger placed the elections enforcement panel, the Freedom of Information Commission, the Office of State Ethics and six other watchdog groups under one organizational umbrella. Each office maintains its autonomy, but they share certain business functions and other support services. The executive administrator oversees those functions.

Guay, a veteran state administrator, had questioned whether the Governmental Accountability Commission had authority to evaluate the executive administrator, or to remove that official from office. The watchdog agencies insisted the legislature had invested them with that authority, a position backed this month in an opinion from Attorney General George C. Jepsen.

Guay, who had told lawmakers that the larger watchdogs had been resisting the consolidation effort, resigned in October to become executive director of another watchdog group, the Contracting Standards Board.

According to the governor’s office, Brown has more than 14 years of experience with human resources and organizational development.

She serves as associate director of employee relations and chief learning officer for the Board of Regents for Higher Education. Before that, she was director of human resource management systems and training within the state’s higher education system. 

Brown has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a bachelor’s of arts from Trinity College in Hartford. She has also studied management at the doctoral-level at the University of Maryland.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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