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Eye Opener: Jan. 13, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! One year ago today, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" to defend her presidential campaign. Today Clinton, along with Dr. Steven Chu, Arne Duncan, Lisa Jackson and Peter R. Orszag all face Senate confirmation hearings today for their nominations to lead the Departments of State, Energy, Education, the Environmental Protection Agency and Office of Management and Budget. The Eye has posted suggested questions for the State, Education and Energy nominees and will be tracking confirmation hearings throughout the rest of the week.

Plenty of television sportscasters have behaved poorly in the past (Charles Barkley and Marv Albert come to mind), but not poorly enough to be transported by U.S. Marshals performing official duties.

"A federal government lawyer who moonlighted as a statistician for Fox Sports improperly arranged for United States Marshals Service (USMS) deputies to drive broadcasters Troy Aikman and Joe Buck to the 2008 Super Bowl and lead motorcades for Buck and Tim McCarver during the 2007 World Series, according to a blistering report by the Department of Justice's inspector general," reports SmokingGun.com.

You'll love this: "In an IG interview, the marshal who chauffeured Aikman and Buck at the Super Bowl recalled telling a colleague afterwards that he thought 'the whole thing was silly' and 'an inappropriate use of his time.'"

In other news...

Federal Workers Delaying Retirement: "Across the federal government in the last several months, fewer employees have been retiring than previously projected" because of the nation's economic crisis reports The Post's Steve Vogel. "OPM has projected that close to one-fifth of the federal government's full-time permanent workforce will retire over the next five years, and that 36 percent of the Senior Executive Service will retire by 2012. 'Our projections are going to be changing,' said [Nancy Kichak, associate director for Strategic Human Resources Policy for the Office of Personnel Management]. Revised figures are expected by later this month or early February."

Julius Genachowski to Head FCC: "Obama's pick for the nation's head telecommunications regulator has served as the president-elect's chief technology counsel and was classmates with Obama at Harvard Law School," reports The Post's Cecilia Kang. "Genachowski is credited for spearheading Obama's online campaign strategy, which used social networking and other tools to spread Obama's campaign message and raise record campaign contributions."

Expanding Facilities Get Relief From EPA: A new rule "will make it easier for industrial plants, refineries and paper mills to expand operations without applying for new pollution permits under the Clean Air Act," according to The Post's Juliet Eilperin. "Environmentalists said the rule, which applies to about 3,500 facilities nationwide, could make it easier for the facilities to expand without limiting harmful emissions."

Advice for Arne Duncan: Obama's education secretary nominee has earned plenty of unsolicited advice. "Many in Washington will judge you on your popularity with adults," writes current education secretary Margaret Spellings in today's Post. "If some adults are made uncomfortable by your policies, so be it. The needs of children must come first." Duncan also gets advice from professors, school superintendents, authors and other educational experts at washingtonpost.com's education section.

Satisfaction of Federal Employees: GovExec.com continues to pour over the results of OPM's 2008 Federal Human Capital Survey and finds that "Young federal employees are more likely than their older co-workers to believe that pay, promotions and performance are based on merit, but less likely to feel that their work matters." More: "On questions about job satisfaction, the youngest federal employees gave lower ratings than their older colleagues. Seventy-four percent said they liked their work, but the average across age groups was about 84 percent."

Little Progress With High-Tech ID Badges: "Agencies are still far behind in issuing new high-tech identification cards to their employees and on-site contractors, a new report shows," reports the Federal Times. "Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, or HSPD-12...mandates all agencies to adopt a standard identification and credentialing system to improve physical security and data security at federal facilities. The new cards...will be the primary way to gain access to federal buildings and computer workstations."

Rush to Judgment at FDA?: The New York Times reports that "An official at the Food and Drug Administration overruled front-line agency scientists and approved the sale of an imaging device for breast cancer after receiving a phone call from a Connecticut congressman, according to internal agency documents." The congressman, Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), who lost reelection in November, "called the agency supervisor only to demand that the agency make a final decision, not that it approve the product. He scoffed at suggestions in the documents that his call led the supervisor to overrule scientists and approve the device. 'That would be idiotic for someone to approve something they don’t think should be approved,' he said."

Events: Eyes shall be trained today on the five Senate confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill. The cable television networks will likely dip into coverage while C-SPAN 1, 2, and 3 will air the hearings with a mix of live and taped coverage.

This Day in History: On this date in 1966, Robert C. Weaver became the first black Cabinet member as he was appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development by President Lyndon B. Johnson. More here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 13, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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