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Another state cabinet member is stepping down

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Another state cabinet member is stepping down

Mar 24, 2023 | 1:00 pm ET
By Nancy Lavin
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Another state cabinet member is stepping down
Rhode Island Director of Administration James E. Thorsen will step down from his post in April to return to a federal position. (Photo from Rhode Island Department of Administration website)

James Thorsen, director of the Rhode Island Department of Administration, is leaving April 28 to return to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Gov. Dan McKee’s office announced on Friday. Brian Daniels, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, will fill in as interim administration director after Thorsen leaves.

Thorsen’s departure is the latest in a string of high-ranking administrators to step down from Mckee’s administration. Housing Secretary Josh Saal resigned in January amid scrutiny over his perceived lack of action to spend state stimulus funds earmarked for housing programs. While Saal’s position has already been filled by former Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, other top roles remain vacant, particularly those within health and human services.

The Rhode Island Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families have all been led by acting directors for one or multiple years. 

Thorsen was appointed administration director in 2021, having previously served as the revenue department director, according to the department website. He also worked in the U.S. Treasury as a budget advisor.

“Jim’s strong history of public service, combined with his business experience, gave him the tools to be a strong and effective leader of one of our state’s largest and most crucial departments,” McKee said in a statement. “We are grateful for his commitment to the state while we navigated a once-in-a-generation pandemic.”

Daniels became budget director in 2021 after serving as executive director of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. Daniels also worked previously in the budget office as director of performance management and later, deputy budget officer. 

McKee called Daniels a “critical leader and trusted advisor” who will ensure the Department of Administration “continues to thrive.”