Steve Steinbrink holds a unique position at the Comptroller's office: He's had his boss' job.
Although he's a career staffer, Mr. Steinbrink was acting comptroller for about a year before Eugene A. Ludwig took the post. Mr. Steinbrink was pressed into service after Robert L. Clarke was rejected for a second term and the Bush administration could not get another nomination through Congress.
The agency was under fire, but Mr. Steinbrink held the hot seat with grace and confidence. He was a hero to his colleagues in Washington and among the 3,000-plus examiners spread across the country.
It was unclear what role he would play when the Clinton administration installed Mr. Ludwig. But Mr. Steinbrink has survived, even thrived.
Mr. Ludwig, a Washington lawyer, could have dismissed Mr. Steinbrink as part of the old guard. Instead, he leans on Mr. Steinbrink's 27 years of experience as an examiner and agency administrator.
"Gene meets with all the senior deputies once a week, and Steve's is the one meeting he never cancels," said one agency official.
Aside from his stint as acting comptroller, Mr. Steinbrink has been senior deputy comptroller for banking supervision operations since July 1991.
Widely regarded as a consummate nice guy, Mr. Steinbrink came to Washington but never lost touch with the field offices, all of which report to him.
Mr. Steinbrink, 49, got his start at the agency in 1967 as an examiner in the Kansas City office. Moving to Dallas, he became deputy administrator in 1977 of the agency's Southwest region. Six years later he became director of bank supervision for regional banks.
The call to Washington came in March 1990, when Mr. Steinbrink was named deputy comptroller for multinational banking. He was charged with ginning up improving the agency's supervision in the Northeast, where the economy had stumbled and the banks were in trouble.
His wife, who has a career in Dallas, never moved to Washington, so the couple commute on weekends. They took time off together this month to return to Mr. Steinbrink's native Nebraska to dig for dinosaur bones.
Senior deputy comptroller, bank supervision operations
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
250 E St. SW
Washington, D.C. 20219