Appointed Secretary of the Navy in July 1992 by President George Bush, O'Keefe served as Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Defense since 1989. Before joining then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney's Pentagon management team in these capacities, he served on the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations staff for eight years and was Staff Director of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His public service began in 1978 upon his selection as a Presidential Management Intern. Chancellor Sean O'Keefe is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a Fellow of the International Academy of Astronautics, and member of the Naval Postgraduate School Board of Advisors. During his academic postings, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Wolfson College of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, a member of the Naval Postgraduate School's civil-military relations seminar team, and conducted seminars for the Strategic Studies Group at Oxford University. He served on the national security panel to devise the 1988 Republican platform and was a member of the 1985 Kennedy School of Government program for national security executives at Harvard University.
In 1993, President Bush and Secretary Cheney presented him the Distinguished Public Service Award. He was the 1999 faculty recipient of the Syracuse University Chancellor's Award for Public Service; recipient of the Department of the Navy's Public Service Award in December 2000; and has been awarded five honorary doctorate degrees from several prestigious educational institutions. In 2003 and 2004, he was recognized and honored by the Irish American Magazine as one of the Top 100 Irish Americans.
He is the author of several journal articles and contributing author of Keeping the Edge: Managing Defense for the Future released in October 2000. In 1998, he co-authored The Defense Industry in the Post-Cold War Era: Corporate Strategies and Public Policy Perspectives .
He is married to Laura McCarthy O’Keefe, and they have three children – Lindsey, Jonathan, and Kevin.
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