Iowa Gov. Chet Culver has tapped the head of the Iowa Finance Authority, Bret Mills, to serve as director of the Department of Economic Development.

Joe O’Hern, the former deputy director of the authority who had been serving as interim deputy director of the department in recent months, will replace Mills as executive director of the IFA.

Mills replaced Fred Hubbell, who has served as interim director of the department following the resignation last September of its then-head Mike Tramotina over a controversy involving management of the state’s film tax-credit program.

The department oversaw the state film office.

Culver suspended the program and asked the state auditor and attorney general to assist in a review after an audit found lax oversight had allowed producers to claim credits for unqualified expenses, raising questions over the value of the program. The department’s deputy director, Mark Schuling, was fired. O’Hern served in that position on an interim basis.

Mills has managed the IFA since 2005. He joined the authority in 2003 as chief financial officer and previously worked for the state treasurer’s office, serving as deputy treasurer for nine of the 15 years he spent there.

O’Hern, a housing specialist, joined the IFA in 2007 as director of housing. He was elevated to deputy director last year. He previously worked as the regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administering housing and infrastructure programs and was a lead director for Fannie Mae covering four Midwestern states.

“During these difficult economic times, we need strong leadership at both [the Department of Economic Development] and IFA, and there are no better choices for these key positions than Bret Mills and Joe O’Hern,” Culver said in a statement. “With our team in place, I am confident that we will work our way out of this recession and build a brighter future for Iowa.”

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