Doug McNeil, top pick for Winnipeg CAO, says he's 'open, honest and transparent'
City council has final vote on recommendation for chief administrative officer next week
Doug McNeil, who could be Winnipeg's next top bureaucrat, says he is "open, honest and transparent."
The longtime public-sector employee, who has served for both the City of Winnipeg and Manitoba government, is being unanimously recommended for the chief administrative officer (CAO) position by the city's selection committee.
The committee's recommendation of McNeil was unanimously supported by the executive policy committee (EPC) on Wednesday and goes to city council on March 25.
If approved by council, McNeil will assume the CAO duties on April 7.
"There's always challenges at the City of Winnipeg, and in government in general," McNeil told CBC News on Wednesday.
"You're always under the microscope by the public, and I'm an open, honest and transparent person."
Mayor Brian Bowman, who led the selection committee, said McNeil stood out from the close to 150 people who applied for the job.
"There were some really impressive people. Mr. McNeil though, I believe … if approved by council, I believe he'll ready to hit the ground running having had the depth and the level of experience that he brings to the position. It's a great opportunity for Winnipeg and our public service."
The CAO selection committee also included Couns. Marty Morantz, Mike Pagtakhan, Janice Lukes, John Orlikow, Brian Mayes, Jenny Gerbasi and Matt Allard.
In a news release, Bowman said, "a critical component in moving Winnipeg forward to face our challenges and modernize our growing, thriving city is hiring a new chief administrative officer who will bring an understanding of large infrastructure projects and a willingness to work in a collaborative, open, and accountable way.
“I believe Mr. McNeil’s knowledge and experience working for the City of Winnipeg, as well as the province of Manitoba, will be valuable as we work together to restore public trust in City Hall and move Winnipeg forward.”
Previous 2 CAOs left amid controversy
The city's former CAO, Deepak Joshi, resigned in mid-February after being suspended by Bowman.
The mayor said he had "lost confidence" in Joshi's capacity to serve as acting CAO but never elaborated on why he felt that way, citing human resources matters.
Joshi replaced Phil Sheegl, who resigned in October 2013, days before a scathing audit into real estate deals was released.
- City of Winnipeg top bureaucrat Phil Sheegl quits
- Winnipeg real estate audit a 'witch hunt,' says ex-CAO Phil Sheegl
McNeil brings a wealth of experience involving over 30 years of work in the public sector, with more than 20 years' experience working with elected officials, according to a city news release.
He most recently served as the deputy minister in Manitoba's Infrastructure and Transportation department. Prior to that, he worked for the Manitoba Floodway Authority, as well as for the City of Winnipeg’s Water and Waste department, where he helped lead the city’s flood-fighting efforts during the flood of 1997.
During his career, McNeil managed an annual budget of $1.6 billion dollars, provided advice regarding the floodway expansion project, and acted as a key member of Manitoba’s flood fighting teams in 2011 and 2014, according to the city.
McNeil said he looks forward to his new job, but he admits there will be challenges ahead.
"One of the challenges is always to meet your budget targets, and so that's one of the things that I'm going to be particularly interested in," he said.