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Eye Opener: April 8, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! Watch above as NBC News reports on an issue The Eye has followed for months. The video includes quick comments by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, once again assuring people that next year's headcount will be conducted as thoroughly as possible.

It seems the administration is preparing to announce a large number of appointees to overseas embassies. "The basic list actually has been pretty much set for a while," reports The Post's Al Kamen. "The plan apparently is to roll out the nominees in a bundle, so to speak, slipping the truly wealthy in with the truly competent. That might be one reason few ambassador picks have been announced -- vetting the super-rich can be time-consuming." Kamen notes that "Traditionally 30 percent of the 160 or so envoy positions are political picks, while the rest go to career Foreign Service officers."

Meanwhile, several "Obama-wannabes" are waiting to hear about potential jobs with the administration.

"The job-seekers range from think-tank types to lawyers seeking better hours or a more altruistic mission. Many were low-paid field directors and their nomadic minions who knocked on doors, organized voters and coordinated multimedia promotions for the Obama campaign," reports The Post's Ian Shapira. "Their collective purgatory highlights the unintended consequences of Obama's influential calls for service. He has cultivated a yen for public service among this generation, but government jobs are limited, and the tight economy is squeezing nonprofit and charitable organizations and their donors. At the same time, the White House has an unprecedented number of applications and résumés to cull, lengthening the process."

Maybe part of the problem is that "Like many old folks, [Uncle] Sam doesn't seem to know what to do with the younger set. He tries to develop programs meant for their needs but manages to flub the execution," as The Post's Joe Davidson writes today. "Look at these numbers from a Partnership for Public Service report released yesterday: In 2007, federal agencies employed 59,510 interns, but only 6.6 percent of them were hired for full-time jobs. At the same time, private-sector employers hired 50.5 percent of their interns."

Guilty as Charged: To the occasional disgust of Almost Mrs. Eye and friends, The Eye has been known to divert his attention from quality conversation to check his PDA: The Post's Monica Hesse finally calls out guilty offenders today -- in a way only such a talented Style writer can: "At present, PDA use exists in a pre-etiquette void. We do not yet have established gestures and rules for behavior. For offenders: May you respond to an e-mail from your mother, or just your boss? For victims: Should you pretend to suddenly get really engrossed in the menu, or whip a craft project out of your purse?"

In other news...

Tapping the Sunshine Grapevine: Federal News Radio's Mike Causey has a great column today about federal agencies that tabs on feds working in Hawaii. Why? To potentially apply for federal openings in the Aloha State.

Judge Orders Probe of Attorneys in Stevens Case: "The rare move to turn the investigation on the prosecutors themselves puts six federal lawyers, accused of mishandling evidence and witnesses, in the awkward position of becoming potential defendants in a criminal trial," reports The Post's Del Quentin Wilber. Read quick bios of the six attorneys: Brenda Morris, Nicholas Marsh, Joseph W. Bottini, William Welch II, Edward Sullivan and James Goeke.

FCC Broadband Proposal May Miss Stimulus: The agency "will embark today on a nearly year-long project aimed at bringing high-speed Internet to every U.S. home, a process that many hope will bring an agency long focused on arcane telephone rules into the digital age," reports The Post's Cecilia Kang. "But by the time the FCC creates its plan for broadband, it is likely that Internet service providers will have claimed much of the $7.2 billion in stimulus funds set aside to build high-speed networks without major input from the agency."

EPA Reconsidering Dry Cleaners' Use of Cancer-Causing Chemical: "The issue of whether to ban perchloroethylene, a hazardous air pollutant linked to cancer and neurological damage, has been the source of a long-running fight between environmental groups and the federal government," reports The Post's Juliet Eilperin.

VA Announces Retirement Of Undersecretary Michael Kussman: "Kussman was expected to retire this summer, and VA officials stressed that his departure now is not connected to an investigation to determine possible links between a VA patient's positive HIV test and unsterilized medical equipment," reports The Eye in today's Post.

SEC to Pursue Limits On Stock Short Sales: The agency holds its first policy-making session of the year, reports The Post's Zach Goldfarb. The meeting "will examine several proposals to curb short sales. The commission is expected to formalize the proposals, allowing for 60 days of comment before deciding to vote on whether to implement them."

Postal Service Looks to Consolidate City Carrier Routes: "The Postal Service is negotiating with the National Association of Letter Carriers, which represents more than 214,000 city letter carriers. It would merge some of the routes in the city delivery networks, a move that will reduce the total number of routes but won’t impact universal service. Letter carriers are delivering 4.7 pieces of mail per address today, compared with 5.9 pieces in 2000," reports Federal Times' Gregg Carlstrom.

Census Starts, Beware of Scams: Larry Collins of WCBD-TV in Charleston, S.C. shares tips for avoiding potential problems with people posing as U.S. Census Bureau workers. (h/t MyTwoCensus.com)

Cool Site: VAWatchDog.org -- an insider's look at goings-on inside the nation's largest health care system.

Democrats Press OMB to Halt Growth of Performance Pay: "The request follows the Defense Department’s decision last month to stop converting more of its civilian employees to the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), which covers 205,000 employees, and to the smaller Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System. The Pentagon and Office of Personnel Management have started reviewing the two performance-based pay systems to see if they are flawed and, if so, worth trying to fix," reports Federal Times' Stephen Losey.

Reservists to Receive Pay Supplements to Match Federal Salaries: Losey also reports that "The supplemental payments begin with the pay period that began March 15, the Office of Personnel Management said in an April 3 memo."

Immigration Raid at Customs Officer’s Home Leads to Suit: The New York Times' Solomon Moore reports on a couple in Arizona suing U.S. Customs and Border Protection for incorrectly raiding their home. The kicker? The guy who owns the home works for CBP.

FreeCreditReport.com Competition?: You've seen those annoying/memorable/funny commercials. Now there's competition from the federal government, reports Gov Exec's Alyssa Rosenberg.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 8, 2009; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Next: FY-Eye: Should Obama Get a Raise?

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