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Eye Opener: Feb. 9, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! While President Obama heads to Indiana, First Lady Michelle Obama continues her tour of federal agencies and departments. The Eye will be there... follow his Twitter feed for updates.

Have you lost track of Obama's cabinet nominees? Keep tabs on all of them through The Post's Confirmation Tracker -- a fantastic score card worth bookmarking.

There are growing concerns that the federal government will not be able to handle the amount of money headed its way if and when the big stimulus package passes.

"The stimulus plan presents a stark choice: The government can spend unprecedented amounts of money quickly in an effort to jump-start the economy or it can move more deliberately to thwart the cost overruns common to federal contracts in recent years," reports The Post's Robert O'Harrow.

"The government's watchdog infrastructure, including inspectors general, also will face new challenges. The House and Senate bills each include about $200 million in additional funding for inspectors general. But some observers say that may be insufficient given the demands."

Meanwhile, as Sec. of State Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares to head to Asia, The Post's "In the Loop" tag team of Kamen and Rucker note that her decision to head far east "is a change from the practice of past secretaries, who have tended to favor Europe or the Middle East as an initial destination." Today's column has plenty of other details on movement at the State Department.

In other news...

Who Will Lead HHS?: Is it Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius or Tennessee's Gov. Phil Bredesen? Or are such reports way ahead of reality?

Agencies Kick Off Recruiting Surge: Stephen Losey of the Federal Times reports that "The government is hiring thousands of employees — to replace retiring feds, to supplement undersized staffs, and to take up new government priorities. Among the hot sectors: veterans’ health, border security, acquisition, diplomacy, law enforcement and intelligence. And the stimulus package before Congress, once passed, will certainly fuel more hiring." John Palguta of the Partnership for Public Service expects the government "will hire as many as a half-million people over the next four years."

Pentagon 'Credit's to Offset Wildlife: The Post's Juliet Eilperin scoops that DOD "has been funding Texas A&M University to pay landowners near a Texas military post to protect endangered bird species on their land under a secretive program designed to free the military to conduct training activities that would damage the birds' habitats inside the post's boundaries, documents show. Despite complaints that the program is a boondoggle for the landowners, some federal officials are pushing to replicate it at other military sites and in federal highway projects."

Foreign Policy Beyond the Pentagon: The Post's unrivaled Walter Pincus reports on a speech given last week by Adm. Mike Mullen, who suggested that "it could take 10 years or more before government departments other than Defense, such as State, Commerce, Treasury and Agriculture, are prepared to send employees overseas to assume roles now being played by the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots. Echoing a theme stressed by his boss, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Mullen told an audience at Princeton University last Thursday: "You've heard us, some of us and certainly me, talk about our foreign policy being too militarized. I believe that. And it's got to change."

New Deal Architecture Bulldozed?: The New York Times reports that "Hundreds of buildings commissioned by the Works Progress Administration and Roosevelt’s other “alphabet” agencies are being demolished or threatened with destruction, mourned or fought over by small groups of citizens in a new national movement to save the architecture of the New Deal."

FEMA Rejects Ike Victims: The Houston Chronicle first reported Sunday that the agency has rejected "nearly 650,000 applications for housing aid since Hurricane Ike hit southeastern Texas, finding that nearly 90 percent of claimants were ineligible for aid. Those rejected and their lawyers say the inspectors are unqualified or poorly trained and the inspection system is flawed in ways that withhold help from deserving people. The agency says the numbers reflect a widespread misunderstanding of its mission."

Jane Lubchenco Profiled: Grist.org reports that Obama's nominee for to lead NOAA "will face the same post-Bush repair work that scientific agencies across the executive branch are confronting. Bush's NOAA chief was cautious to a fault on the subject of anthropogenic climate change, and the Bush administration was accused of blocking NOAA climate researchers from talking with the media.

Today's Big Event: President Obama will sell his economic stimulus plan in the RV Capital of the World, Elkhart, Ind., before his first primetime news conference tonight. More here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 9, 2009; 7:36 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

is that hiring in Washington D.C.??? Only. I know state government in cutting big time. And it is expensive to live in Wash DC.

For i.e.: the striking Calif. government workers. They were told --work 3 days, 2 days off. You want to keep your jobs???? You do it.
And I am all for it.
There are 1.2 million jobless people, maybe more, sitting on their couch, watching picket signs from Calif.--when they are all saying "i'll take 3 days of work in a new york second"...

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 9, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

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