District of Columbia Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi has announced that he will resign his position for personal reasons on June 1.
In a Friday letter to Mayor Vincent Gray, Gandhi said the decision to retire was difficult, but that he feels comfortable retiring amidst the improving fiscal condition for the city. Gandhi has served as CFO for more than 12 years, overseeing a dozen upgrades to the district’s general obligation rating and the creation of its highly-rated income tax bonds.
“The fund balance is as high as it has ever been, revenues are rising and, at this time it appears that they will continue to do so. Our bond issues are regularly oversubscribed and sell at historically high interest rates,” he wrote in the letter.
Gandhi’s tenure has not been without turmoil. A 2007 tax scandal rocked his office when a mid-level employee was found embezzling millions of dollars, and there have been smaller allegations of oversight and accounting issues since that time. Gandhi has repeatedly aggressively defended his conduct and that of his staff.
But Gandhi said his resignation is “purely personal,” and that he stands ready to help Gray ensure a smooth transition.
“There are still challenges caused by our dependence on Congress to approve our budget and our inability to tax income earned in the city,” Gandhi told the mayor in his letter. “The effective fiscal policy leadership provided by you and the council, however, gives me great comfort that the city will continue on its upward course.”
Gandhi's announcement comes three months after Marcy Edwards, also retired as senior financial policy advisor in the CFO office after serving in that post since 2005.
She is currently a Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board member.
Gray said in a release, “I want to express my profound gratitude to Dr. Gandhi for being an exemplary steward of the District’s finances for over a decade, and I am sorry to see him go. I especially want to thank Dr. Gandhi for being a strong partner in helping me restore our crucial fund balance to $1.5 billion.”
John McNally, a lawyer at Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP, which has served as disclosure counsel for the district since 2000, said Gandhi’s accomplishments are “very significant.” McNally specifically mentioned the district’s recent announcement of a more than $400 million budget surplus and the income tax bonds.
“But he also cared enough about the district to create a team at the office of the CFO that has the experience and the knowledge to assure that the district continues to steer a prudent financial course for the future,” McNally said.
A Moody’s Investors Service spokesman said Gandhi’s future departure date should leave time for an orderly transition.