The 13-month, multinational search to find a new commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection came to a surprising close this week when Mayor Bloomberg selected a 36-year-old aide with limited environmental experience who works a few desks away from the Mayor in City Hall.

Caswell Holloway, the current chief of staff to Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, has been chosen to lead the agency, which uses its $1 billion budget and 6,000-person workforce to maintain the city's sewers and water supply, among other responsibilities. Bloomberg said Holloway's background "qualifies him superbly for his new position," and City Hall sources tell the Times that Holloway demonstrated his problem solving abilities when he drafted a plan for a citywide waste management system, oversaw the collection of human remains uncovered at Ground Zero years after the attack, and worked on the Mayor's controversial Gowanus Canal plans.

But others question whether Bloomberg was really considering outside environmental experts after he selected the City Hall insider. "This seems like musical chairs more than genuine change," said Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey.