John Koskinen


His Role as the Fixer

Ep. 31 - John Koskinen was involved in 911, anthrax, Y2K, IRS, Freddie Mac rebuilding during the 2008 financial crisis., and yes, even soccoer. That's why his role is referred to as "the fixer."

Top Takeaways:

    • The steps that he took while in government to deal with both the 2000 and 2008 financial crises
    • How the government responded to 9/11 and the anthrax disasters in an effective way
    • Learning to be an excellently performing individual in your career so that you leave a gap when you leave
    • Why giving back to the community is one of John's initiatives

Listen to the behind-the-scenes work as the plane hit the pentagon in Washington DC during 911 and what happened during the anthrax scare. He describes communicating with no cell phones during crises. Listen to his description of Y2K global implementation. His stint as IRS Commissioner reveals a political challenge, a potential impeachment, and the identity theft problem. He describes his participation in the U.S. Soccer Foundation and his impact on soccer in the inner city.

"I never made a decision as IRS commissioner on my own; I always talked to the senior executives."

John shares a lifetime of his career both in the private and public sectors. He has had a plethora of impactful jobs, most of them in the government and many in the role of rescuer. He was nominated as the commissioner of the IRS by President Obama and was confirmed by the Senate for a term expiring in 2017. Previously, Mr. Koskinen served as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Freddie Mac and served as interim CEO, COO and CFO. He was President of the United States Soccer Foundation, the charitable arm of soccer in the U.S. Prior to his service as Deputy Mayor, Mr. Koskinen served as Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget, and he served as Assistant to the President and Chaired the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, coordinating the country's transition into the new century. In addition to federal government employment, Mr. Koskinen earlier served as Deputy Mayor and City Administrator for the District of Columbia, responsible for the operation of all city departments. He also had private sector experience with the Palmieri Company, which specialized in turnaround management, as Vice President and later served as President and CEO.

He had the ultimate rebuilding job when he became CEO of Freddie Mac during the 2008 financial crisis. In this role, he meticulously restructured operations and processes to help stabilize the government-backed company.


Listen to his first-hand account about the value of public service and how to make an impact at the highest levels of government. This is a long one, but a terrific history lesson!

Key Moments:

He talks about the last 50 years of his career- 25 years in the private sector and the last 25 in the public policy and when he became associated with the academy of housing and communities [2:40]

He explains how the 2008 foreclosures affected Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae [11:21]

He talks about his responsibilities at the OMB and his role in government shutdowns and the effective task force he put in place [12:54]

An insight on the job to deal with the 2000 crisis he took on after the OMB which was offered by both the president and the vice president at the time [16:06]

How he became the deputy of Maryland city administrator [25:12]

He tells stories of how they responded to the 9/11 emergency [27:44]

How he worked to handle anthrax by protecting people in an organized and effective way [35:18]

The story of how he was inspired by his kids to start coaching soccer and later starting a soccer foundation as a way to give opportunities to inner-city kids [36:51]

How he joined the IRS after his second attempt at retirement [43:12]

His thoughts on how the IRS is handling the Coronavirus by protecting the employees while they work tirelessly [52:02]

Wikipedia John_Koskinen

Press Release on Y2K Conversion

Business of Government Article

Ballotpedia Article

Napa Article

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