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Newly Named Officials Bring Years of Experience to Finance Posts

May 14, 2007 — Two top financial jobs in the territory came closer to getting filled Monday when Gov. John P. deJongh Jr. announced the selection of Claudette J. Watson-Anderson, CPA, as commissioner of Finance and Debra Gottlieb as budget director, pending approval from the Legislature.
The governor also named Austin Nibbs as executive assistant finance commissioner, an appointment that does not require Senate approval.
"Having previously worked in both the private and public sectors, Watson-Anderson brings solid and exemplary experience to the administration," said a Government House news release. "She has spent the last 25 years in senior and managing accountancy positions, and was recently the Legislative post auditor for the 26th and 27th Legislatures, where she routinely offered technical and advanced understandings of financial data and accountancy bills, proposals and other analyses."
Watson-Anderson is a recognized expert on the reporting and financial systems used by the departments and agencies of the V.I. government and is well versed in complex analyses of appropriations as well as actual expenditures, the news release said. She also previously coordinated with the Committee on Finance to assist in budget analyses and has often testified as an expert during Legislative hearings regarding financial and budgetary matters.
“Her experience in the private sector and years as a Legislative post auditor provides firsthand knowledge about government operations and government finances,” deJongh said. He added, “We are lucky to have her as a member of our team.”
Before her stint with the V.I. Legislature, Watson-Anderson held senior positions at O’Neill & Associates, ALCOA, St. Croix Alumina, Brammer Chasen and O’Connell, KPMG Peat Marwick Main and Loeb and Troper.
"Her substantial experience in the private sector enables her to lead the Department of Finance with a keen eye on business enterprise and development initiatives in the territory, and she has been instrumental in consistently providing guidance and direction on financial decisions, including acquisitions, compliance arrangements and other complex accounting functions throughout her distinguished career," the news release said.
Watson-Anderson holds a certified public accountant certificate from both the State of New York and the territory and holds a bachelor of science in accounting from the City University of New York. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Virgin Islands Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Debra Gottlieb, who has served as acting budget director since January, was tapped Monday to lead the agency on a permanent basis, according to the news release.
“Over the last four months, I have worked closely with Director Gottlieb and have come to appreciate her in-depth knowledge of government finances and the budget process," deJongh said. "I am confident that Ms. Gottlieb will take the OMB to a higher level. Additionally, we share the focus of performance based budgeting and agree that improvements in the spending of federal dollars warrants more attention."
Gottlieb is a long-time OMB employee, having held positions as acting director, deputy director /alternate governor’s representative from 1999 to the present. For two years before that, she served as associate director of budget administration at the Office of Management and Budget.
For six years, from 1991-1997, Gottlieb worked as a senior management analyst and management analyst. Before joining the staff at the OMB, Gottlieb held the position of director of administration (post audit), special assistant to former Sen. Lorraine L. Berry and special assistant to the Select Committee on Status and Federal Relations. Gottlieb has also held positions in the offices of two St. Thomas law firms and a CPA firm. She holds membership in a number of community-service organizations, including the Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas Lions Club, the Miss U.S. Virgin Islands Universe Pageant Committee and the Carnival Committee’s booklet committee.
Austin Nibbs, acting finance commissioner since January, has been named to the position of executive assistant finance commissioner and has been given territorial responsibilities. One of the key areas that Nibbs will focus on is to improve the internal accounting and financial-reporting standards in the departments and agencies of the government, deJongh said, according to the news release.
“I thank him for his months of dedicated service at the helm of the Finance Department and look forward to a fine performance in this new position,” the governor said.
Nibbs has spent the past 34 years in senior positions in various accountancy, management and auditing capacities, and was most recently acting commissioner for the Department of Finance. Before that, "he excelled as deputy commissioner of the Department of Finance, where he successfully assisted in leading the department, expertly handling management issues and complex financial analyses," the news release said.
It continues, "His vast experience in management and accounting has allowed him to successfully implement many new measures toward improved efficiency and productivity his various capacities in both the public and private sectors. With high standards of commitment, Nibbs is invaluable in setting effective priorities, implementing decisions and motivating staff to achieve both short- and long-term goals."
Nibbs has demonstrated an expertise in compliance and internal control systems, and has supervised the preparation of the annual budget, the news release said. In his extensive private-sector experience, he has guided small businesses in management and tax strategies and was responsible for supervising audit professionals for major contractors, including AT&T, Allied Signal, Hughes Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing.
Nibbs holds a master of arts in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor's degree in business administration, with a focus in accounting and economics from Howard University. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Virgin Islands Society of Certified Public Accountants.
DeJongh said he was confident the three appointees have the financial skills necessary to lead two key departments in the executive branch as members of the administration’s financial team, according to the news release. The nominations of Claudette Watson-Anderson and Debra Gottlieb are subject to approval by the 27th Legislature.

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