WASHINGTON-Ellen Seidman announced her resignation from the Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) last week, effective upon the confirmation and appointment of her replacement. “The agency, weak when I was appointed in October 1997 because of a five-year lack of a confirmed Director and constant concern over its survival, is strong and healthy with a highly competent, well-motivated staff,” Seidman wrote in her letter of resignation to President George W. Bush. “The vigorous and effective efforts of our employees and the steps taken to strengthen institutions threatened with trouble have contributed to there having been only two failures of thrift institutions during this period, both extremely small.” Seidman, appointed by then President Bill Clinton, still has more than two years left on her term. Upon Bush’s request for her resignation, “I accede to your request, notwithstanding the fact that I was appointed for a term of five years that would end in October 2002, because I believe it is based entirely on the desire of the new Administration to have its own choices in senior government positions, and is not a response to any supervisory or regulatory actions I have taken,” she wrote. “Ignoring the 5-year term creates an unfortunate precedent: it implies that the office can be treated as a typical executive branch position in which senior officers serve at the pleasure of the President, so that any Director may be dismissed at any time for any reason, including by a President motivated by displeasure at the Director’s official actions,” Seidman warned. She noted that her departure would be reluctant.

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