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Eye Opener: Dec. 8, 2008

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Good morning!

Don't Reorganize DHS... Yet: "Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has some advice for his successor: Don’t tinker with the Homeland Security Department," reports the Federal Times. "At least not right away. 'I would stop reorganizing,' he said in an interview last week. 'Every time there’s a reorganization, it sets you back a year. People don’t know where they’re going to go, what their future is, what their job description is going to be.'" Chertoff "applauded the choice" of Janet Napolitano to head up the department. "He said he would encourage her to wait two years and then decide on any organizational changes."

Andy Stern Talks: The Wall Street Journal talks to the head of the Service Employees International Union, who opines on Obama's picks of Tom Daschle, Bill Richardson and others, and reforms he hopes to see at the National Labor Relations Board and to the nation's health care system.

Legal Status of Iraq Contractors: "A recent deal that lifts legal protections for U.S. contractors working in Iraq has representatives of private security guards concerned," reports GovExec.com. "The Status of Forces Agreement signed last month by the State Department and ratified by the Iraqi Parliament could have serious repercussions for contractors who watch over key officials and infrastructure, according to industry observers." More: "The agreement, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2009, nullifies a 2003 order by the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority that granted U.S. contractors immunity from criminal prosecution in Iraqi courts for actions taken in the course of performing their jobs. Political pressure to lift Order 17 mounted after guards for Blackwater Worldwide were involved in a deadly shooting in Baghdad in September 2007 that left 17 civilians dead and dozens injured."

EPA Finalist Doubts She's a Finalist: California Air Resources Board head Mary Nichols tells Grist.org she doubts she's a finalist to head the Environmental Protection Agency. "Nichols repeated that she would be honored to play a role in the Obama administration on environmental and energy issues. She said she could not comment on whether she has talked to transition team officials or other staff. Obama spokesmen were mum too, despite an increasing drum roll of published and online reports that [former New Jersey commissioner of Department of Environmental Protection Lisa] Jackson is now the lead candidate." Meanwhile, a separate Grist.org reports quotes former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman saying that "she expects the Obama administration will find a wave of retiring scientists who have been with the agency since its first years in the early 1970s. She said the agency's low morale has undermined efforts to recruit new talent. Even with a more supportive president, she said the agency faces plenty of limits. 'It's more constrained than I realized, even as a governor who worked closely with the agency,' she said. 'Because it is a regulatory agency, Congress has set a lot of the rules. When you try to be flexible and impose some common sense on some things, you get hauled into court and it gets very frustrating.'"

Carrion for HUD? The Yale Daily News reports that Bronx, N.Y. borough president Aldolfo Carrion "suggested in a talk at Yale on Friday that he is being tapped for a top post in the administration of President-elect Barack Obama." A student told YDN that "Carrion told some attendees in a conversation before the lecture that as he was heading to dinner in advance of the Slifka event, he received a congratulatory phone call from Sen. Hillary Clinton LAW '73 of New York, whom Obama has nominated to be secretary of state." Carrion was elected Bronx borough president in 2001 and re-elected in 2005.

From the Judiciary Branch: The Post's Jerry Markon reports that "The federal judiciary is on the verge of a major shift when President-elect Barack Obama's nominees take control of several of the nation's most important appellate courts, legal scholars and political activists say. With the Supreme Court's conservative direction unlikely to change anytime soon, it is the lower courts -- which dispense almost all federal justice -- where Obama can assert his greatest influence." Not exactly about the Federal bureaucracy, but still an interesting read. Also check out The Post's review of big court decisions in the last decade.

Events: Looking ahead to Wednesday, the American Enterprise Institute hosts "Regulation and Oversight: Advice for the New Administration" from 2:45 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. at AEI headquarters. "Many analysts are suggesting that the United States is about to enter a new regulatory era. They point to the need for more regulation on a host of issues, ranging from financial services to food supply. What kind of new federal regulations should we expect? How will political considerations affect the creation of new rules?" Check it out!

This Day in History: On this date in 1993, Bill Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement. More here.

Do you have news tips, event listings and other comments or questions? Send them to federaleye@washingtonpost.com.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 8, 2008; 8:02 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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