Cas Holloway, ’02: A Civil Servant Committed to Customer Satisfaction

Appeared in Record issue: 
Spring 2012

As New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Operations, Cas Holloway, ’02, directly oversees 11 mayoral agencies and assists the mayor in overseeing the police department, fire department, and several other key offices—all with the ultimate goal of providing more than eight million New Yorkers with effective, efficient, innovative, and sustainable services.

“Fundamentally, this is a customer service job,” Holloway says, “and the key metric is whether people want to live, work, and raise their families in New York City—or somewhere else. Many factors contribute to that decision—from whether a city is safe and clean to the quality of the drinking water.” Pointing out that under Mayor Bloomberg all of those factors are currently heading strongly in the right direction, Holloway adds, “People and businesses also want to know whether they can get things done here—whether that’s building a new home, or adding the newest addition to the skyline. In one way or another all of these outcomes come under the Operations umbrella.”

How does Holloway make sure all those things happen? “I draw on my Law School training every day,” he says. “The Law School has had a tremendous influence on my thinking, my management style, and my approach to problems. I learned then how to break down complex issues into their essential components, how to identify and focus on the most important outcomes, and how to interact effectively with people with different ways of seeing things. This job would be a lot harder without that background.”

Before becoming deputy mayor last year, Holloway made a big difference in two other vital city positions. Most recently, he was the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, New York City’s water and wastewater utility. With a 10-year capital budget of $13.2 billion and nearly six thousand employees, the department delivers a billion gallons of drinking water each day. The department’s sustainability efforts, including its heralded Green Infrastructure Plan, won the prestigious US Water Prize for innovative programming to improve water quality in New York Harbor. It will also save the city more than $2 billion over its 20-year implementation period, compared to a traditional approach.

Holloway began his current service with the city in 2006, when as a special advisor to Mayor Bloomberg he led the creation of a detailed report concerning the health impacts oft he 9/11 attacks and headed the subsequent negotiations that resulted in federal legislation to provide continuing health coverage for 9/11 responders and expand victims’ eligibility for financial compensation. He also played a lead role in the implementation of a new solid-waste management plan, which shifted waste export from diesel trucks to a more efficient barge and rail system.

Holloway says that his education at the Law School helped him with all that work, too: “So much of what I did in those jobs involved complicated local, state, and federal jurisdictional issues. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times that some jurisdictional question would pop up and I’d find myself thinking about things I learned from David Currie, Richard Epstein, or another member of that great faculty.”

Holloway lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Jessica, who is an attorney at Brune & Richard. Before attending the Law School, he served as chief of staff at the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

He came to his later city jobs from Debevoise & Plimpton, a firm he had joined after clerking for an appeals court judge and then starting as an associate with a different firm. He says, “I knew I wanted to return to public service at some time in my career, and Debevoise showed me that it really valued and respected the kind of work I wanted to do. Frankly, I didn’t think my opportunity would come so soon or last as long as it has, but it’s been a phenomenal experience, and I hope all alumni oft he Law School will seriously consider the special rewards that come from public service.”