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Suggested Questions for Gary Locke

By Ed O'Keefe

Some thought this day might never come!

Gary Locke
Former Washington State Gov. Gary Locke (D) faces a confirmation hearing today to serve as commerce secretary. (Photo by AP)

Today the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for former Washington Gov. Gary Locke (D), President Obama's third pick to serve as commerce secretary. The former county executive, who in recent years has worked on China and energy issues for a Seattle-area law firm, is considered a safe choice following the botched nominations of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) and New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg (R).

Prior to confirmation hearings for other potential Obama Cabinet members, the Eye posted possible questions for nominees as suggested by the Government Accountability Office, which issued a report last November that warned lawmakers and nominees of potential management and operational challenges at the nation's 28 major government agencies and departments.

At the Commerce Department, Locke would oversee 12 bureaus that focus on the nation's economic development or technological advancement. He faces potential issues at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, according to GAO. NOAA's "capacity to provide critical weather-forecasting services has been hampered by ineffective oversight of satellite contracts worth billions of dollars," while the Census Bureau has endured "performance deficiencies and uncertain, escalating costs."

Read some of GAO's suggested questions below and submit your suggested questions in the comments section below:

• In the past, GAO has reported lessons learned from satellite acquisitions such as underestimating program costs and the unanticipated expansion of the program’s scope. What specific large-scale acquisitions have you been involved in? Have acquisitions you have been involved in experienced cost overruns or expansions in scope? What lessons have you learned from your prior experiences that will ensure that future acquisitions, such as the GOES-R program, do not also experience similar problems?

• The 2010 Census is less than two years away. What do you think are the key challenges facing its managers, and what advice would you give them to help overcome those challenges?

• The bureau plans to spend an estimated $3 billion on IT investments for the 2010 Census. Management of these large investments will be important to the success of the Decennial Census. Do you have experience overseeing or managing such large contracts? What do you think is most important to ensuring that IT contracts meet expected cost, schedule, and performance?

• Many agencies are involved in the data collection and dissemination of federal statistics, including the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Do you have experiences with significant data sharing among statistical agencies? How would you balance data sharing with concerns about privacy and confidentiality?

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 18, 2009; 5:45 AM ET
Categories:  Confirmation Hearings, Congress  
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Compared to Locke, Richardson is starting to look good. Locke is in real tight with the Chinese government which means that we will roll over and play dead with them. Especially in light of the fact that they hold a huge amount of our debt. Ever wonder where all that money comes from to fund Obama's big plans? Yes, we borrow it from the Chinese.

Posted by: BubbaRight | March 18, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

How about asking if he has ever cheated on his taxes and does he owe the government any money.

Posted by: XLiberalJack | March 18, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Always . . . people like BubbaRight & XLiberalJack condemn liberal appointees without any REAL KNOWLEDGE about the person.
Locke is respected and admired in Washington State, and deserves that respect.

Posted by: lufrank1 | March 18, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

While the following may seem like small fish, it strikes me as indicative of uncontrolled expansion of federal authorities that will be overlooked in an era of trillion dollar federal spending. The NOAA Marine Sanctuary program is embarking on a dramatic expansion of one of their sanctuaries, Monterey Bay. The management plan has expanded from twenty five pages in the original plan in 1992, to over 450 pages in 2008. The staff is expanding from 5 or 6 in '92 to 35 plus volunteers and contractors in '08. And the budget?? Why be limited by the proposed $40 or $50 million in this heady era of stimulus and shovel-ready demand.

Suffice to say that Commerce should have a very careful review of agency oversight and the institution of something resembling management priorities and responsibilities. The confirmation process should make an effort to determine if Gov. Locke views on reasonable government restrain are appropriate.

Posted by: jdonaldson1 | March 18, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

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