D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray ousts aide over stalled business program reforms

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The director of the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development was ousted Friday amid concerns about the pace of reforming the city's controversial certified business enterprise program, an official familiar with the decision said.

Mayor Vincent Gray's administration said early Friday that Harold Pettigrew was being replaced immediately. Robert Summers, who has been the deputy chief of staff for the department, was named the agency's interim director.

"Mayor Vincent C. Gray, City Administrator Allen Lew and I thank Harold for his service and wish him well in the future," Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins said in a statement. "The Gray administration will continue to move forward aggressively with the reforms needed in our local certified business enterprise program."

Representatives of Gray and Hoskins declined to comment on the leadership change beyond Hoskins' three-paragraph statement. Pettigrew could not be reached for comment Friday morning.

But a person familiar with the decision said that Pettigrew's departure was tied to slowed efforts to overhaul the CBE program.

"Sometimes, people don't move quick enough when told to," the person said, who requested anonymity to discuss a personnel matter.

The Gray administration pledged last year to reform the CBE program, which is notorious for widespread fraud.

But Gray and city lawmakers have tangled about the proposed overhauls, and legislation hasn't moved forward.

Earlier this week, Gray named an advisory panel to study potential reforms, but came under immediate criticism for his picks, which watchdogs said had conflicts of interest.

Pettigrew joined Gray for that announcement on Wednesday, and he acknowledged that plans to increase enforcement of the program's rules had not been implemented because the department was still trying to make the necessary hires.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner