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Eye Opener: Jan. 27, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! In case you hadn't heard, President Obama is doing several things to roll back the policies of the Bush administration. He's banned the use of controversial CIA interrogation tactics, ordered the closure of the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, begun planning for the drawdown of troops in Iraq, imposed limits on lobbyists, unveiled an $825 billion stimulus plan, and ordered a halt to any last-minute rules and regulations put in place by his predecessor.

The president also issued two orders yesterday that could ultimately toughen fuel efficiency requirements for new cars and light trucks. He directed the EPA to reconsider granting California and other states waivers to set their own strict regulations over tailpipe emissions, and instructed the Transportation Department to draw up new interim targets for mileage standards ensuring new vehicles reach the 35 mile-a-gallon level set by Congress for 2020. The New York Times editorial board called the directives "a wonderful start" to changing the government's environmental policies.

There's also interest in what Obama might do about the nation's national parks and protected lands. Reports say a leading contender to head the National Park Service appears to be respected agency veteran Jon Jarvis, the Pacific regional director based in Oakland.

In other news...

How Federal Agencies Could Benefit From the Stimulus Bill: Government Executive compiles a fantastic, though not comprehensive review of what federal agencies and departments may get from Obama's proposed economic stimulus package. The General Services Administration for example would get $2.6 billion to replace older vehicles in the government fleet with alternative fuel automobiles and $6 billion to make federal buildings more energy efficient and help eliminate a backlog of $8.4 billion in repair projects.

DTV Delay: The Senate approved a four-month delay in the big digital television conversion, though it's not clear if the House will also pass the measure. "Some Republicans say that changing the date would further confuse consumers and create additional costs for broadcasters who have made extensive preparations to switch next month. Wireless companies and public safety agencies also are waiting for airwaves that will be freed by the transition."

White House IT Issues: And you thought your office had technical difficulties! "Shortly after the workweek began, the tech-savvy Obama administration was hit with a mysterious 'server outage' that shut down all incoming and outgoing e-mail for more than eight hours, forcing aides to resort to old-fashioned phone calls and face-to-face conversation."

Babs Helping Eric Holder: Barbara Streisand is among the liberal heavy-hitters helping Obama's attorney general nominee secure enough Senate votes to win confirmation. "People. People who need people..."

Former Surgeon General Under Fire: Dr. Antonia C. Novello, the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as U.S. surgeon general, later served as New York's state health commissioner. "But the New York State inspector general’s office says that she turned her staff at the Health Department into her personal chauffeurs, porters and shopping assistants during her seven-year tenure, and has referred a criminal case, including potential felony charges, to the Albany County district attorney," reports the New York Times.

TSA Employees Give Management Low Marks: This according to an internal study by the security agency recently released by the American Federation of Government Employees.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 27, 2009; 7:57 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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