August 5, 2009

Head of FHFA plans to step down

James B. Lockhart III plans to resign as director of the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency, sources told The Washington Post.

Lockhart helped coordinate the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last year. The FHFA now controls the two lenders.

The Post said its sources did not give a date for Lockhart's departure.

An old friend of former President George W. Bush from prep school, college and the Harvard School of Business Administration, Lockhart served in the administrations of both Bush and his father. He headed the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. in the first Bush administration and was named head of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which became the FHFA, by the younger Bush.

I started my government career 40 years ago in the Navy, becoming an officer on the deck of a nuclear ballistic submarine, Lockhart said last week in a speech that appeared to be a farewell message. Twenty years later, when I was sworn in by Elizabeth Dole as the head of PBGC, she said that experience would help me navigate the rough seas of under-funded pensions. Well, the experience helped there and at other troubled seas in my government career -- Social Security, OFHEO and now FHFA..