HARRISBURG - President Obama has nominated one of Gov. Rendell's top policy advisers to a leading post in the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Roy Kienitz, a deputy chief of staff for Rendell, has been nominated as the department's undersecretary for policy.

The White House, in a news release issued late Friday, credited Kienitz with directing a number of major capital projects during his tenure with the commonwealth, including the expansion of the Convention Center and the Port of Philadelphia.

Kienitz was appointed by Rendell as his chief adviser on transportation, energy and environmental policy shortly after Rendell took office in 2003.

"He is one of the brightest, [most] hardworking, talented members of the administration. His defection to the Obama administration will be a loss," said Rendell's spokesman Chuck Ardo.

Rendell praised Kienitz as instrumental in advancing a number of successful alternative-energy and conservation initiatives, as well as the passage of Act 44 of 2007, which sought to establish dedicated transportation funding.

Kienitz is the first Rendell administration official to be named to a post in the Obama administration, but others were considered, including Kathleen McGinty, former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, for the Environmental Protection Agency, and Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff for the Agriculture Department.

Before coming to Harrisburg, Kienitz served as secretary of Maryland's Department of Planning and as director of the Surface Transportation Policy Project, a Washington-based nonprofit group that advocates for transportation changes.

Contact staff writer Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or aworden@phillynews.com.