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Sean O'Keefe

Sean O'Keefe

Contact Information:


309 Eggers Hall

Sean O'Keefe

University Professor

Phanstiel Chair in Leadership

Distinguished Senior Advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute

Senior Research Associate, Autonomous Systems Policy Institute


  • 2024 Spring
    • PAI 771 Public Management of Technology Development
  • 2023 Fall
    • PAI 895 Managerial Leadership
  • 2023 Spring
    • PAI 771 Public Management of Technology Development
  • 2022 Fall
    • PAI 895 Managerial Leadership
  • 2022 Spring
    • PAI 670 Experience Credit
    • PAI 895 Managerial Leadership
    • PAI 771 Public Management of Technology Development

Highest degree earned

Honorary Doctor of Science, College of Aeronautics Flushing, 2004


Sean O'Keefe is the 17th person in Syracuse University history to hold the title of University Professor, the highest faculty rank conferred by the University. He is also the Howard G. and S. Louise Phanstiel Chair in Leadership, an endowed professorship at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

A longtime public administrator, national security expert and aerospace industry executive, O'Keefe served in several top leadership positions in the U.S. government, higher education administration and industry. He has been associated with the Maxwell School and Syracuse University for many years beginning as a graduate student, as a member of the faculty, advisory board chairman and advocate.

O'Keefe is the former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Airbus Group Inc, the U.S. division of the Airbus global aerospace company. Immediately prior to joining Airbus, O'Keefe served as a vice president of the General Electric Company following his service as chancellor of Louisiana State University (LSU). 

On four separate occasions, O'Keefe served as a presidential appointee. Prior to leading LSU, he was administrator of NASA and just before this appointment, he was deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. Previously, he was secretary of the Navy, following service as comptroller and CFO of the Defense Department at the Pentagon.

He began his career after graduate studies at the Maxwell School as a member of the inaugural class of the Presidential Management Intern program in 1978, and later joined the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee staff. Between public service appointments, O'Keefe has held faculty posts at LSU, Pennsylvania State University and the Maxwell School, where he served as director in National Security Studies and as Louis A. Bantle Chair of Business and Government.

In 1993, President George H.W. Bush and Secretary Dick Cheney presented O'Keefe with the Distinguished Public Service Award. He was the 1999 faculty recipient of the Syracuse University Chancellor's Award for Public Service; recipient of the Department of Navy's Public Service Award in December 2000; and has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from five prestigious educational institutions, including Loyola University New Orleans, his undergraduate alma mater.

In March 2003 and 2004, he was recognized and honored by the Irish American Magazine as one of the Top 100 Irish Americans, in 2011 received the Syracuse University distinguished alumni Arents Award presented for excellence in public service, and in 2014 was the recipient of the Meridian International Center’s Corporate Leadership award.

Sean and Laura O’Keefe reside in northern Virginia, and at Skaneateles Lake in Upstate New York.

Areas of Expertise

Public management, national security policy and strategy, public finance and public budgeting, financial management, technology development and innovation management, executive leadership

Research Grant Awards and Projects

"IC Center for Academic Excellence: Syracuse University Adaptive, Diverse & Ethical IC Professionals: Partnership for Educational Results (PER/SUADE) 2020 - 2021:_ Subproject for Institution # 30991", Sponsored by Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"IC Center for Academic Excellence: Syracuse University Adaptive, Diverse & Ethical IC Professionals: Partnership for Educational Results (PER/SUADE)", Sponsored by Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)/DOD.

Selected Publications

  • Journal Articles
    • O'Keefe, S. C., Lynn, III, W. J., A New Strategic Approach to Military-Technical Advantage. Future Foundry, Center for a New American Security, 2016.
    • O'Keefe, S. C., Melese, F. and Blandin, J., "A New Management Model for Government: Integrating Activity Based Costing, the Balanced Scorecard and Total Quality Management with the Planning, Programming and Budgeting System." International Public Management Review, 2004.
    • O'Keefe, S. C., Carter, A. and White, J., "Keeping the Edge; Managing Defense for the Future." Preventative Defense Project of Harvard University and Stanford University, 2000.
    • O'Keefe, S. C., Susman, G., "The Defense Industry in the Post-Cold War Era; Corporate Strategies and Public Policy Perspectives." Elsevier Science, 1999.
    • O'Keefe, S. C., Franke, W., "Breaking the Market or Preventing Market Breakdown: The Technology Reinvestment Program." Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University National Security Studies Case, 1997.
    • O'Keefe, S. C., The Orange County Financial Crisis. The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 1997.
    • O'Keefe, S. C., An Analysis of the Technology Reinvestment Program as a Method of Defense Conversion and Industrial Policy and its Affect on Shareholder Wealth. Smeal College of Business Administration, Pennsylvania State University, 1996.
  • Conference Proceedings
    • O'Keefe, S. C., A World Lit by Lightning. Naval Institute Press, 1995.
    • O'Keefe, S. C., From the Sea: Preparing the Naval Service for the 21st Century. Naval Institute Press, 1992.

Presentations and Events

House Armed Services Committee, "Sequestration Implementation Options and the Effects on National Defense: Industry Perspectives" (July 18, 2010)

Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, "Executive Judicial Compensation in the Federal Government (Quandrennial Commission))" (September 20, 2006)

the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, "NASA’s Shuttle Return to Flight efforts" (September 8, 2004)

the President's Commission on the Implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration public hearing, "The President’s Vision for U.S. Space Exploration" (May 4, 2004)

House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA-HUD and Independent Agencies, "FY 2005 Budget" (April 21, 2004)

Honors and Accolades

Government Hall of Fame, Government Executive publication (April 20, 2023)

Corporate Leadership Award, Meridian International Center (2014)

James Forrestal Industry Leadership Award, National Defense Industrial Association (2014)

George Arents Award for Public Service, Syracuse University (2011)

Inductee, Louisiana Political Hall of Fame (2007)