Janet Howard to leave CEO’s job at BGR after 14 years _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Bureau of Governmental Research President & CEO Janet R. Howard, right, speaks in New Orleans City Council Chambers during a Government Affairs Committee meeting about the number judges in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. Paul Rioux, the principal author of the report by BGR titled "Benchmarking the Bench," is at left.

Janet Howard, president and chief executive officer of the Bureau of Governmental Research, is resigning as head of the government watchdog organization, BGR announced Thursday.

She will continue in her role as president, a job she has held for 14 years, until her replacement is selected.

Howard, 65, said her resignation was prompted by a desire to do something new.

“It’s been a great 14 years. I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said. “But it’s time to move on. Fourteen years is a long time, certainly the longest I’ve ever spent in a position.”

She said she intends to remain in New Orleans and spend some time relaxing before deciding on her next professional move.

A search committee, chaired by BGR Vice Chairman Hardy Fowler, will select her replacement.

Howard joined BGR in 2001. Board member Bob Brown, who served on the selection committee that hired her, said her methodical approach to answering questions helped her stand out from the other candidates being considered for the job.

“When you asked her a question, she would just kind of wait a few seconds. And it wasn’t as if she was flustered or had to ponder real deeply. She just sat and waited for that period,” Brown said. “And in every case, it was a thoughtful, appropriate response.”

Brown said Howard has applied the same thoughtful approach during her years as the leader of BGR.

With Howard at the helm, BGR pushed for the consolidation of New Orleans’ seven assessor offices into one, which happened. BGR also doggedly monitored the Sewerage & Water Board’s attempt to privatize its operations and was an early and vocal critic of the plan, which did not happen.

Howard counts those projects among those she’s most proud of in her time at BGR. She said she also was pleased with the organization’s shift during her tenure to writing shorter reports. That change allowed the organization to offer its views on a wider array of important but complicated topics like assessments and exemptions to the public and policymakers.

“I think that’s been a healthy shift,” Howard said. “I think a lot of the conversations we’re having have been changed over time because of that.”