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TARP Creates Staffing Headaches for Treasury

By Ed O'Keefe

The Government Accountability Office has released its latest progress report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Treasury Department's new Office of Financial Stability (OFS). The Eye will not even attempt to assess TARP's economic impact, but will instead focus on how it's altered the federal food chain.

As of Monday, Treasury had hired 38 permanent staff and 52 temporary staff for OFS, up from five permanent staffers and 43 temporary hires in late November. The temporary staff (referred to as "detailees") come mostly from other parts of the Treasury Department, including the U.S. Mint and IRS and from other agencies and departments, including the SEC, FDIC, Federal Reserve, HUD, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Treasury anticipates it will need a total of approximately 131 staffers, through a mix of permanent and temporary hires.

OFS' recruitment process has been delayed however, because Treasury requires most applicants disclose financial information to determine any potential conflicts of interest. "Some qualified candidates were unaware when they applied for an OFS position that their financial investments could pose conflicts and subsequently made the decision not to pursue employment with OFS," according to the report. Treasury is thus collecting financial information as early as possible in the hiring process.

Adding to the delays, "Treasury said that candidates with the right skills and abilities to fill positions in OFS often work for a financial regulator that can offer a more competitive salary than OFS." The department's Human Resources division is considering incentives for potential hires, but is limited by current laws and Office of Personnel Management regulations.

The report credits OFS with establishing a relatively seamless plan to keep high-level staffers in place during the presidential transition, retaining several Bush-era hires until the Obama administration names permanent replacements. But it has not completed formal job descriptions for some positions, nor has established a formal workforce plan that defines the long- and short-term needs for the program.

Still, at least someone is hiring.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 30, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Revolving Door, Workplace Issues  
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Next: Eye Opener: Feb. 2, 2009


The great growth in the Federal government has begun. The Treasury is already setting the stage to request higher pay for the new regulators.

After all, how will they keep up with the Wall Street bonuses?

Posted by: jdcw | January 30, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"The great growth in the Federal government has begun. The Treasury is already setting the stage to request higher pay for the new regulators."

Oh please. If they don't oversee, they get grief. If they staff up to oversee, they get grief.

There's no pleasing some people.

Posted by: Arachnae | January 30, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Do you have any idea how many outside activities (investments, political activities, second jobs, etc.) that government workers in these types of jobs have to give up just to get below-market wages?

Posted by: Wallenstein | January 30, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

they should just hire all the Goldman Sachs layoffs. they already know how to steal from taxpayers so it should be a seamless transition.

Posted by: millionea7 | January 30, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

OMG THE GREAT BIG GOVERNMENT EXPANSION IS HERE! whoop-de-do they hired a few people. It's a headache, because the bureaucracy.

Posted by: gmanfrommd | January 30, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Should recipients of taxpayer favors continue to send jobs offshore?
- -
Where are the controls?

Where is the common sense?

Posted by: JamesRaider | February 1, 2009 3:17 AM | Report abuse

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Banks collecting billions of dollars in federal bailout money sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers to the U.S. for high-paying jobs, according to an Associated Press review of visa applications.

The dozen banks receiving the biggest rescue packages, totaling more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions that included senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers, junior investment analysts and human resources specialists. The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households.

The figures are significant because they show that the bailed-out banks, being kept afloat with U.S. taxpayer money, actively sought to hire foreign workers instead of American workers. As the economic collapse worsened last year — with huge numbers of bank employees laid off — the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP's analysis increased by nearly one-third, from 3,258 in fiscal 2007 to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.

The AP reviewed visa applications the banks filed with the Labor Department under the H-1B visa program, which allows temporary employment of foreign workers in specialized-skill and advanced-degree positions.

It is unclear how many foreign workers the banks actually hired; the government does not release those details. The actual number is likely a fraction of the 21,800 foreign workers the banks sought to hire because the government limits the number of visas it grants to 85,000 each year among all U.S. employers.

During the last three months of 2008, the largest banks that received taxpayer loans announced more than 100,000 layoffs. The number of foreign workers included among those laid off is unknown.

Foreigners are attractive hires because companies have found ways to pay them less than American workers.

Posted by: lucygirl1 | February 1, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh my god can someone answer me a question please. If we gave the 825 million dollars to everyone over eighteen in this country how mcuh would we each get. And dont you think that would be better for the economy than letting the biggies buy another jet or two. Let everyone buy a house or get an education or a car.

Posted by: dentahead | February 2, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Alowie | February 2, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

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