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Some Republican Oversight Committee Staff Dismissed

By Ed O'Keefe

Between 10 and 15 Republican staffers of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are leaving the panel as its newly appointed Republican ranking member, Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), prepares to become the chief GOP watchdog on the Obama administration. The dismissals signal that Issa is moving quickly to focus Republicans on investigating the activities of federal agencies and departments.

Changes to congressional committee staffs are routine and occur whenever there are changes in congressional leadership. One committee staffer who spoke with The Eye said staffers are bothered by the situation because people were dismissed so quickly and so close to the holidays.

Republican committee staffers started learning their fates Thursday, the same day Issa told The Eye in an interview that, "Staff probably will not change as much as members change based on elections."

There are currently 39 people on the Republican staff. Issa told The Eye that while he'd rather have more people working with him on the committee than fewer, what matters most is that the staffers are productive. "The goal really is, am I somebody who can get an awful lot out of motivated people, working on projects that make a difference," he said.

“We need to be ready by January,” Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said of the committee’s Republican staff. Hill acknowledged the tough job climate for Republican staffers as Democrats prepare to take more control of Congress and of the executive branch but said the Republican committee staff “has to be ideally placed for the challenges they’re going to have.” While Issa expects bipartisan cooperation from the committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Edolphus Town (D-N.Y.), “they’re going to be ready” if such cooperation does not occur, Hill said. He would not elaborate on the preparations and what they mean for the Republican staff, its mission or what type of people might be hired to replace those departing.

House Republicans last week elected Issa the committee's ranking member. He ascends to the job following the retirement of Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who is joining the private sector. According to one committee staffer, Davis made assurances to the committee staff in mid-November that they would have the opportunity to meet with Issa if they wished to stay with the committee.

Staffers instead met with Lawrence "Larry" J. Brady, the committee’s new Republican staff director. Those dismissed are expected to remain on the committee's payroll until Jan. 15, but some will stay longer.

Issa, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, is the founder and former CEO of Direct Electronics and the former head of the Consumer Electronics Association, so he's no stranger to management. The staff of his congressional office has remained virtually intact since he joined the House in 2001.

He told The Eye last week that he hopes to focus his committee work on streamlining the government’s procurement process and eliminating duplication at government agencies.

“Anyone who has a budget can be a buyer and then they can negotiate with" contractors, Issa said of the federal government's agencies and departments. “That’s not how smart organizations that see billions of dollars being spent organize. My committee is the committee that’s supposed to deal with organization and reform.”

It seems Issa is ready to practice what he preaches, having just reorganized his own committee to better serve new needs.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 15, 2008; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Oversight, Revolving Door  
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Comments

“Anyone who has a budget can be a buyer and then they can negotiate with contractors, Issa said of the federal government's agencies and departments.
That’s not how smart organizations that see billions of dollars being spent organize. My committee is the committee that’s supposed to deal with organization and reform.”

First, I really do not understand why a GOP Congress person is taking charge of a committee. That is confusing since the Democrats lead the house and senate. Anyway, the way I interpret Mr. Issa's statement above tells me he needs alot more learning to do about how federal agencies function financially. They are buyers if they have a budget. It is the total oversight of everything. Where I work in the Navy, there are just too many Navy captains walking around with too little oversight and too much money. I am sure all agencies have the same issue. Nearly all agencies (constraint by stupid OPM rules) can't hire and find good Contract Specialist employees, so they are short staffed. They need to lighten up the rules. Anyone working in budget, accounting or finance should be just as qualified to be a Contract Specialist. But not according to the OPM rules. HOWEVER, a Contract Specialist can qualify to be a budget, accounting or finance (of course you have to have a degree for the 510 series)... but the point is the rules are stupid. OPM or agency HRO's refuse to look at this.

Posted by: darmar40 | December 16, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

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