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The Plum Book: More Cool Jobs

By Ed O'Keefe

When one of The Eye's editors first heard about the "Plum Book," he thought we were referring to a tasty cocktail. After a little more than three hours of scanning the book, The Eye could use one! Another colleague says it reminds her of the old catalogs she used to sign up for college courses. Feel free to look at it for yourself on the GPO Access Web site.

Here's a further look at cool-sounding jobs:

Wage and Hour Administrator: This person investigates possible violations of various employment laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, minimum wage laws, child labor laws, etc. They cooperate with the Department of Justice in such investigations, according to labor department spokesman Loren Smith.

Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management: This presidentially-appointed person oversees labor issues at the department of... labor.

Director, Office of Pavement Technology: This is another career, non-political position that oversees an office of the Federal Highway Administration. The office researches new ways to make roads more durable, according to FHA spokesman Doug Hecox. Back in 2004 the office installed "rustic pavement technology" to manipulate the color of the asphalt outside the White House on Pennsylvania Ave., giving it a more "rustic" appearance.

Director, Office of Compact Negotiations: It's a vacant position that will earn you at least $114,468 per year.

Representative of the U.S. on the Council of international Civil Aviation Organization: Must Love Planes.

And if you've always wanted to work on a faraway island, The Eye recommends you apply to become the Chief of Mission for Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Dominica or Barbados. This one person represents U.S. interests to all of those islands and has an office in Bridgetown, Barbados. If you don't like the Caribbean, perhaps Chief of Mission to the Marshall Islands or the Solomon Islands might suit you better.

Two things to keep in mind:

1.) The Eye means no disrespect to the current or future people who hold these positions.

2.) The chances of picking up the latest Plum Book, applying for a job and getting hired are slim. Brookings Institution presidential expert Stephen Hess says he hired only two people for the Nixon Administration in early 1969 who applied using the Plum Book.

Even if Joe the Federal Job Applicant fails to get hired by perusing the Plum Book, it's still fun to look at what's out there!

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 12, 2008; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  Revolving Door  
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Next: Review Teams for Treasury, State, Defense Announced


The Obama transition team has a website: They also have a section on the site where you can apply for non-career positions at

Posted by: kemodog | November 12, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps your next column could discuss the real ways people have gotten political appointments in the past--if the plum book isn't that useful. If you decide to except this mission, then please go deeper than someone was a big donor or had connections.

Posted by: fow2s | November 12, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Even better: the GSA site notes that there's a Prune Book:

Posted by: liz1231 | November 12, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Also check Council for Excellence in Government for their prune book.

Posted by: tvannoy13 | November 12, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

"I fully anticipate a new era of cooperation between the administration and federal employee representatives ...." said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

This equals massive pay raises, and benefits packages given with no work performance standards. Same old bureaucracy, but with a higher cost to tax payers.

Posted by: ignoranceisbliss | November 18, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

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