Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts on Thursday congratulated State Budget Administrator Gerry Oligmueller on 44 years of service in state government. Oligmueller’s public service spans four decades, nine Governors, and two states. Oligmueller will complete his service to the state upon his retirement on September 11, 2020.
“I extend my personal gratitude and gratitude on behalf of the entire state to Gerry for his phenomenal work. He has not only been invaluable to the budgets we have crafted, but has also been an outstanding public servant for several decades,” said Governor Ricketts. “During his tenure, he has helped craft a dozen balanced budgets and helped ensure that Nebraska continues its long tradition of maintaining a structurally sound budget. Congratulations to Gerry on his retirement. He leaves behind an enduring legacy of fiscal conservatism, a strong team, and budget principles that will guide the state for years to come.”
Oligmueller’s career is marked by a wide variety of accomplishments. During his tenure, Oligmueller modernized the State of Nebraska’s budget-building process, leading efforts to create the state’s first digital budget request platform. He was a strong defender of Nebraska’s “pay-as-you-go” tradition, building budgets based on revenues without borrowing against the state’s future. Early on in his career in a role with the former Department of Social Services, Oligmueller built what would become the state’s children and family services system as he organized services previously provided by county governments.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of Nebraska as the State Budget Administrator,” said Oligmueller. “While it’s easy to think of a budget as lines on a page, this work has a very real impact on the lives of the people we serve. The budget team has worked to be a wise steward of the trust placed in us, and I know that the team will continue to do a great job in that regard moving forward.”
Over forty-four years of public service in state government, Oligmueller served both the South Dakota and Nebraska Legislatures and nine Governors in South Dakota and Nebraska.
After serving internships in both the executive and legislative branches of South Dakota state government, Oligmueller started his professional career of public service in 1976 as a budget analyst with the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management (the Governor’s Budget Office). He worked in that office under two Democrat Governors and one Republican Governor—Kneip, Wollman, and Janklow—serving as Deputy Commissioner prior to accepting a position with the Nebraska Legislature.
In 1979, Oligmueller accepted a position with Nebraska’s Unicameral Legislature as the Performance Review Supervisor for the conduct of performance reviews by legislative fiscal analysts for the Performance Review and Audit Committee. Within a year he became the Deputy Director of the Nebraska Legislative Fiscal Office which is the fiscal staff agency for the Appropriations Committee and for all members of the Nebraska Legislature. He held that position until 1983 when he was recruited to be Assistant Director for Policy Implementation at the Nebraska Department of Social Services. His first assignment at the Department was the conversion of Nebraska’s public welfare system from a county-administered to a state-administered system of social services. This required the reorganization of ninety-three county welfare offices into a newly established organizational structure with the full range of business processes necessary to support the statewide delivery of social services in Nebraska. He served as Deputy Director, and sometimes Acting Director, of the Nebraska Department of Social Services during the terms of three Nebraska Governors—Kerrey, Orr, and Nelson.
In 1995, Governor Ben Nelson appointed Oligmueller as State Budget Administrator. During his first three years as State Budget Administrator, the Budget Division replaced the paper, forms, and legacy computer system that supported the State budget process with an in-house custom built client-server based system for collecting biennial budget requests and preparing and publishing the Governor’s biennial budget recommendations. This was the first client server based information technology application for an enterprise-wide business process within Nebraska state government. The new budget application provided immediate benefits of productivity, efficiency, and accuracy in the State budget process. The new system produced an Executive Budget Book that incorporates vision, goal, mission statements, and performance measures along with the traditional financial information associated with the budget process. The base system has received several improvements to take advantage of advances in technology and continues to offer anytime, anywhere access for supporting the biennial budget development process in Nebraska state government.
Oligmueller was reappointed by Governor Mike Johanns as State Budget Administrator in 1999, reappointed by Governor Dave Heineman in 2005, and reappointed by Governor Pete Ricketts in 2015. Gerry is currently in his twenty-fifth year as State Budget Administrator in Nebraska, having served in that position for one Democrat Governor and three Republican Governors. This record spans a period of time unequalled by any previous State Budget Administrator for Nebraska. He has served successfully as chief fiscal advisor to Nebraska Governors through political transitions and during multiple economic cycles starting with the economic boom of the late 1990’s through the recession of 2001, recovery, and then the recession of 2007-2009, recovery, and the pandemic of 2020. His service over two decades as State Budget Administrator is comprised of many individual negotiations, triumphs, and compromises necessary to enact fiscal policy and appropriations through twenty-four regular and three special sessions of the Nebraska Legislature. He also served three occasions as Acting Director of the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services, a large state agency with key enterprise responsibilities in the areas of insurance, risk management, personnel, accounting, procurement, vehicle, and property management.
The Nebraska Legislature also had the benefit of his service in a significant performance audit and fiscal policy role for four years.
The State’s largest circulation daily newspaper, the Omaha World Herald, in 2006 referred to Oligmueller on its editorial page as “ . . . .the hardest working administrator in Lincoln.” It further indicated that “competent professionals such as Oligmueller may be little heralded, but their service and dedication are invaluable to the functioning of Nebraska state government.”
Over the years, Oligmueller established an extensive network of national state budget professionals. This began with his attendance at the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) “Introduction to State Budgeting Seminar” held in Portland, Oregon in 1977 and the NASBO Annual Meeting held in Sun Valley, Idaho in 1978. He has extended his service to benefit other State Budget Administrators and members of the NASBO through his active participation in this national organization. He places a high value on the important role that budget analysts perform in the support of Governors and the development of state budgets. That prompted his early commitment to work with another former NASBO President Bob Bittenbender of Pennsylvania as Chair of the Training, Education, and Human Resource Committee to roll out the organization’s budget training curriculum. Oligmueller served as NASBO President in 2001-2002 and was recognized by the national organization in 2006 with the prestigious Gloria Timmer Award for outstanding achievement in state budgeting.
Oligmueller also serves on the Steering Committee of the Reforming States Group, a bipartisan voluntary, self-governing group of international and state government executive and legislative branch health policy leaders, sponsored by the Milbank Memorial Fund. The Fund, located in New York, NY, is an endowed operating foundation that engages in nonpartisan analysis, collaboration, and communication with an emphasis on state health policy.
In light of this retirement, Governor Ricketts also announced that Lee Will, the current Deputy Budget Administrator, will serve as the next State Budget Administrator. Will’s first day is September 12, 2020. His salary will be $135,000.