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Transition Hope, Fear, Witch Hunts

We're in the middle of something many of my career federal employee friends and acquaintances dread: a transition to a new president of the other party. Scouts appear and start asking questions. Political appointees about to leave set up defensive barriers even as they look for new jobs. It's not fun.

Shailagh Murray and Carol D. Leonnig report today that President-elect Obama's agency review teams are swarming into government offices and asking questions. Some offices are more welcoming than others. Some outgoing officials have clearly attempted to stifle honest and open sharing of information.

Our Readers Who Comment -- many of them obviously in government, some of them obviously not -- are providing guidance and commentary. They suggest targets for special inquiry; they express hope for the future, they express fear of a witch hunt.

We'll start with sashab1 who pointed his finger at one of the problems many in both major political parties regard as requiring significant attention in writing, "...I hope he really goes through the department of Health and Human Services entitlement programs, Social Security, and Pentagon to find the waste, fraud and abuse in these programs. There are literally tens of billions of dollars from these programs that could be better invested in public transportation, education and job training..."

e9999999 said, "hopefully they'll replace the entire corrupt right wing infrastructure in the intelligence community, fire them all."

schumann-bonn wrote, "I guess they learned from the disarray of the first few Clinton months in office. If the organizational skills currently on display are any indication, then we can look forward to a new executive branch off and running on inauguration day."

Utahreb observed, "Sounds like DHS has a lot to hide since its attorney has given the employees warning to not talk. Wonder what is hidden under the rocks? Let's hope that the "loyal Bushies" who are totally unqualified for their positions are ousted as soon as possible and capable, intelligent people put in place."

lidiworks1 wrote, "It's still no good if Federal employees aren't allowed to be candid or if they are only talking to Management, which is the vast problem throughout the government."

gasmonkey said, "Sounds like quite a change from prior transitions, that consisted of eager 23-year-olds playing boss, demanding to know who was a Democrat and who was a Republican."

magellan1 cited Obama's recent statement that "This isn't about big government or small government. It's about building a smarter government that focuses on what works" and predicted that "...we'll hear a lot about the defense department and homeland security. I suspect that we will hear nothing about the education department, health and human services, housing and urban development and all the other dem-oriented special interests out there."

crlchild wrote, "Obama said he would be going through everything, line by line, to rid the country of waste. He has started to do what he promised. Keep up the good work!"

donald_mcmunn said, "Well, one statement here is quite encouraging -- the transition teams are 'creating anxiety' among the Bushites in power. Shows clearly that they have things to hide !..."

pookiecat wrote, "Hopefully, these teams will get over to the DOJ [Justice Department] and CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] and ask a lot of tough questions, especially with respect to how this administration haw allowed white collar crime and fraud perpetrated against government programs like Medicare to run amok while they took care of their lobbyist buddies..."

jkpcguru said, "I'm sure the career scientists at the EPA are happy to see their transition team. The war on science and the censorship of scientific research will be over!"

We'll close with davidscott1, who expressed a jaundiced view many of us who have been in Washington a long time share, in writing, "Obama: 'It's about building a smarter government that focuses on what works.' I wish I weren't old enough to recall Jimmy Carter uttering almost exactly those same words in 1976."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  December 3, 2008; 7:39 AM ET
Categories:  Federal Employees , Medical Care , Obama , Transition  | Tags: Federal Employees, Obama, Transition  
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