President Barack Obama has chosen Wal-Mart’s Sylvia Mathews Burwell as his next budget chief, thrusting her into the centre of Washington’s heated partisan budget battles, a White House official says. The official credited Ms. Burwell with being a principal architect of a series of budget plans in the 1990s that led to a U.S. budget surplus.

A White House official said Mr. Obama will announce Ms. Burwell’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget on Monday morning.

If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Burwell would bring more diversity to Mr. Obama’s second term Cabinet following criticism that many top jobs were going to white men.

Mr. Obama also was set to announce his choice of MIT scientist Ernest Moniz to head the Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency veteran Gina McCarthy to run the EPA, said an official, who commented only on grounds of anonymity to confirm the nominations ahead of Obama’s formal announcement. The positions will require Senate confirmation.

Ms. Burwell is a Washington veteran, having served as OMB’s deputy director in the Clinton administration and chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. She currently runs the Wal-Mart Foundation, the retail giant’s philanthropic wing, and previously served as president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program.

Wal-Mart president Mike Duke called Ms. Burwell a strong leader with a “clear vision for making big things happen.”

“She understands business and the role that business, government and civil society must play to build a strong economy that provides opportunity and strengthens communities across the country,” Mr. Duke said in a statement.

Mr. Obama made quick work of filling key national security openings in his administration, but he has been slower to fill other Cabinet-level openings, including the OMB post. Vacancies also remain at the Environmental Protection Agency, Commerce and Energy Departments and the U.S. trade representative.

Administration officials have blamed the slow pace of nominations on the arduous Senate confirmation process, which requires a job candidate to submit to an intense and lengthy vetting process.

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