Scrupulously apolitical, Lebryk moved through positions that gave him deep exposure to the plumbing of federal financing: deputy assistant secretary for fiscal operations and policy, acting director of the U.S. Mint, commissioner of the Bureau of the Fiscal Service. All were civil service jobs that do not require nomination by a president or confirmation by the Senate.
Former colleagues say he is friendly and funny, exceedingly calm under pressure, and unusually straightforward for an assistant secretary, in part because he is a career bureaucrat who is not angling for a political promotion. Some former colleagues also pointed out Lebryk could be making millions of dollars on Wall Street but has instead for three decades earned a government salary.
Few situations could prove more stressful for Treasury officials than the one now facing Lebryk and his team. The last time the United States neared a default, under the Obama administration in 2011, the stock market contracted by 20 percent. The bond market could be thrown into a panic. The economy could head toward a recession.
Lebryk will have to provide precise information amid the chaos. Every morning, he meets with the career officials at the Office of Fiscal Projections to discuss how much money the government has compared to what had been forecast the previous day. This effort requires sifting through a vast sea of information. There are 438 federal agencies and subagencies, and his team needs to know which ones spent more, or less, than they were expected to do.