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Role of White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley Changing

ABC/Martin H. Simon(WASHINGTON) -- Coming off a difficult summer for President Obama and heading into what is shaping up to be a difficult re-election season, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley’s role at the White House is changing, sources told ABC News, with senior advisor Pete Rouse assuming an expanded operational and coordination role with White House staff akin to that of a chief operating officer.

White House officials denied that this was in any way a demotion for Daley, insisting that several weeks ago Daley had asked Rouse, a top aide to the president since his election to the Senate in 2004, to expand his role by helping the West Wing run more smoothly, making it more effective and efficient.

Daley made the announcement at a White House staff meeting on Monday.

“As a lot of you know, I’ve asked Pete to take on a greater operational role,” Daley said, according to one attendee, who said Daley described Rouse’s role as that of a “chief operational officer.”

Rouse had been assuming this expanded role for several weeks, and Daley decided to make it official on Monday, a source said.  This does not mean that Rouse will assume responsibility for running day to day operations at the White House, the source said, insisting that Daley would continue to run the 7:30 a.m. meeting for top senior staff, the 8:15 a.m. expanded senior staff meeting and all meetings when President Obama meets with his senior advisors.

Rouse will oversee internal communications and operations, the source said.

President Obama felt that White House operations needed to improve, so Daley set out to try to do that, the source said.  So many quickly-developing issues required someone to better monitor how the White House handles each one, making sure that responsibilities are delegated and every division within the White House -- the national security staff, communications, the economic team -- is keeping all the others informed.

The value in having Rouse assume responsibility for this, sources said, is that Rouse is regarded as a master of operations -- smart, effective and low key.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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