President Barack Obama's nominee to head the White House Office of Management and Budget, Shaun Donovan, told a Senate panel on Wednesday he would continue to cut budget deficits while finding ways to spend more on programs intended to boost growth.

"Over the last five years, the deficit has been cut in half as a share of the economy," Donovan told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. "Our nation can continue this progress while focusing on the critical goals of accelerating economic growth, creating jobs and expanding opportunities for all Americans."

Donovan, who is currently secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, further pledged to use his perch as budget director to make government management more effective if confirmed.

Obama is under heavy criticism for delays in providing health care to military veterans that have raised questions about his administration's management abilities.

Donovan mentioned the work the housing agency has done to assist veterans twice during brief prepared remarks.

Republicans on the panel expressed concern about government spending and the $12.3 trillion U.S. debt held by the public.

"From my standpoint, if you want to take a look at what's happening in terms of this economy and why it's not growing as rapidly as it should be is the onerous nature of the size of government," Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson said.

However, the senior Republican on the panel, Tom Coburn, said he had no doubt Donovan would be approved by the committee.

If confirmed by the Senate, Donovan would take over from Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who left to take over the Department of Health and Human Services, an agency that was roiled by the botched rollout of the president's signature Affordable Care Act health law last year. (