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Eye Opener: March 26, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Happy Thursday! If President Obama doesn't answer your question today, make sure to submit instead to The Eye's "Ask Your Government" Google Moderator group. Several new answers to your queries are in the works.

Today's Big Story: "If the U.S. Postal Service delivered mail by boat, it would be a sinking ship," The Post's Joe Davidson reports. "A large hole in the hull, punched by a huge iceberg named Recession, is draining mail volume while it allows financial losses to flow in and drown the service in a financial swamp." Here are the numbers: USPS moved 213 billion pieces of mail in fiscal year 2006. This year, that number is expected to fall to 180 billion. The amount of money the postal service has been losing goes up and down, but it's all bad -- $5.1 billion in 2007, $2.8 billion in 2008, and a projected $6 billion in both 2009 and 2010.

In other news...

More Young People Want Government Jobs: The Post's Steve Vogel reports that "Two months after President Obama took office vowing to make federal service cool again, career services specialists report an increase among college students who want to work for the government."

Stimulus Czar Well-Prepared for New Role: Gov Exec's Robert Brodsky profiles Edward DeSeve, tapped to help implement the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

Paid Parental Leave Advances: "The House federal workforce subcommittee on Wednesday passed a bill that would provide federal employees with four weeks of paid leave on the birth or adoption of a child," reports Gov Exec's Alyssa Rosenberg. "During the bill's markup, Democratic committee members and one Republican said the 2009 Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (H.R. 626) would provide an important model to private sector employers. The legislation advances to the full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee."

Pay Parity Added to Budget Resolution: "The House Budget Committee has included language in the fiscal 2010 budget resolution to establish parity between the pay raises for military service members and civilian employees," Rosenberg reports once again for Gov Exec. "The language does not set the actual amount of the 2010 pay raise for military and civilian employees. Those figures will be decided during the appropriations process, as is customary. The Senate Budget Committee is debating its own version of the budget this week."

EPA #2 Nominee Steps Aside: Jonathan Z. Cannon pulled out because his association with the now-defunct America's Clean Water Foundation "has become the subject of scrutiny," he said in a statement.

Duncan Seeks to Fuel Innovation in Schools: The education secretary says "he will leverage a $5 billion fund to shape school reform, rewarding states that push for classroom innovation with federal stimulus dollars and denying extra aid to those that do not," reports The Post's Maria Glod.

West Point to Outsource 300 Jobs: The FedLine blog spots the news that Ginn Group, a Peachtree City, Ga. company, was selected to provide public works and maintenance services to the Army’s West Point, N.Y. campus.

Source of Many Foods Untraceable: The New York Times reports that most food manufacturers and distributors cannot identify the suppliers or recipients of their products despite federal rules that require them to do so, according to a report by Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.

VA Pushed to Automate Claims Processing: " An automated system will not only allow the Veterans Affairs Department to speed up claims processing, it will also allow closer monitoring of employees, a key lawmaker said Wednesday," reports Federal Times' Rick Maze. "Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said a paperless claims system will mean fewer mistakes and inconsistencies in disability benefits and fewer delays, and it will 'help judge the effectiveness of employees.'"

White House to Keep Agencies’ Focus on Terrorism: David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis of the New York Times report that "The Obama administration is moving to solidify one of the most significant shifts of resources put into place under President George W. Bush: the transformation of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into agencies where the top priority is counterterrorism rather than conventional law enforcement."

Today's Big Event: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, above, will get another opportunity to exercise his self-restraint in the face of congressional questioning and activist heckling at a 10 a.m. House Financial Services Committee hearing titled "Addressing the Need for Comprehensive Regulatory Reform," where he will be back at the testimony table. More events here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 26, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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