Eye Opener: Earl Devaney Speaks Out
Happy Thursday! The Eye got a rare look inside the new offices of the Recovery Act and Transparency Board on Wednesday, visiting newly acquired digs for Earl Devaney and his growing staff. He has $84 million at his disposal and will soon finish hiring a staff of 30 IT experts, auditors, investigators and aides to oversee Recovery.gov and coordinate oversight efforts with federal inspectors general and state auditors.
As The Eye reports in today's Post, President Obama appointed Devaney chairman of the board in late February, a move widely praised by lawmakers and members of the federal oversight community because of Devaney's reputation for being highly independent. Some call him "the Bob Vila of government," a repairman-for-hire assigned to address difficult situations over his 40-year federal career as a Secret Service agent, director of criminal enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency and inspector general at the Interior Department.
The label is one he embraces, he said, because "I actually don't get excited unless something is broken."
"While I may not have the technical expertise, I'm perfectly capable I think of finding the best people in the country and pulling them together," he said yesterday during one of his first interviews since taking the job.
His staff has kept close watch on this week's forum and already has reached out to users for more information. "We have to make this site robust enough to accept this huge tidal wave of data that's going to come rushing in here in October. That's the challenge. That's what keeps me up at night," he said.
• Cabinet and Staff News: OPM's John Berry announces new telework policy. Clinton is expected to deliver a major speech, possibly next month, to outline the administration's broader foreign-policy goals, according to Newsweek. HUD's Donovan sees early signs of a turnaround. Holder says 30 Gitmo detainees ready for release. Gates' next lever to reshape the Pentagon is the QDR. Locke recruits a former aide to join him at Commerce. Geithner pushes for credit card overhaul.
In other news...
• FY 2010 Budget Blueprint Supports Military-Civilian Pay Parity: "The final blueprint did not, however, contain a Senate-backed provision aimed at identifying duplicative and ineffective federal programs. The bill passed the House by a vote of 233-193 and the Senate by 52-43. It now heads to President Obama's desk," reports Gov Exec's Robert Brodsky and Alex M. Parker. "The pay parity section backs an equal raise for civilians and military members, but does not recommend a figure. The amount of the annual pay hike will be determined during the appropriations process."
• States, Ciites Could Get Access to GSA Schedules: "State and local governments might soon be able to use Recovery Act funds to make purchases via the General Services Administration's multiple award schedules," reports Gov Exec's Robert Brodsky. "Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Wednesday he plans to introduce a bill in the coming weeks that will open the GSA schedules to cooperative purchasing. Under that approach, nonfederal entities will have access to the same goods and services federal agencies can buy from contractors."
• Library of Congress Ordered to Pay in Discrimination Suit: A federal judge Tuesday awarded a former special forces commander $491,190 in back pay and damages because officials with the Library of Congress discriminated against her when they rescinded a job offer after learning she was transitioning from being a man to being a woman, reports The Post's Del Quentin Wilber.
• KBR Sued Over Burn Pit Exposure: "Nine class-action lawsuits have been filed in nine states on behalf of service members and government civilians who say they were sickened by the open-air burn pits on U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan," reports Kelly Kennedy of Federal Times/Military Times.
• Court Records Contradict Obama HUD Nominee Sims "President Barack Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) told Senator David Vitter (R-La.) last week during a confirmation hearing that he could not comment about his role in an on-going legal battle over a Seattle sport stadium," writes D.C. Examiner columnist Kevin Mooney. "However, when he was interviewed by a television crew the next day about a $120,000 fine, Sims denied concealing any records or having any personal involvement in the case. He also claimed no records linked him with the case."
• Schumer Backs Increased Power for ICE Agents: The New York Democrat "joins Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., in calling for the additional authority for ICE as the Homeland Security Department makes dealing with Mexico's drug violence a priority," according to CongressDaily.
• Republicans Acting Like Swine: Amid a rant on the GOP, Daily Beast's Matthew Yglesias writes that "A big part of the problem is that the U.S. simply has an outrageously large number of political appointees running the executive branch. Most democracies operate more the way we run our military, with the vast majority of senior administrative posts in the hands of career professionals."
• Justice Department Urges Equalizing Drug Sentences: "Officials yesterday endorsed for the first time proposed legislation that would eliminate vast sentencing disparities for possession of powdered versus rock cocaine, an inequality that civil rights groups say has disproportionately affected poor and minority defendants," reports The Post's Carrie Johnson. "Newly appointed Criminal Division chief Lanny A. Breuer told a Senate Judiciary Committee panel this morning that the Obama administration would support bills to equalize punishment for offenders accused of possessing the drug in either form, fulfilling one of the president's campaign pledges."
• Judge Who Signed Interrogation Memos Invited to Testify: Johnson also reports that "Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy invited federal judge Jay S. Bybee to testify about his role in preparing two Justice Department memos that allowed interrogators to engage in simulated drowning and slamming prisoners against a wall."
• Panel Warns U.S. on Cyberwar Plans: "The United States has no clear military policy about how the nation might respond to a cyberattack on its communications, financial or power networks, a panel of scientists and policy advisers warned Wednesday, and the country needs to clarify both its offensive capabilities and how it would respond to such attacks," report John Markoff and Thom Shanker of the NYT. "The report, based on a three-year study by a panel assembled by the National Academy of Sciences, is the first major effort to look at the military use of computer technologies as weapons."
• What's Up With the FAA?: D.C. Examiner columnist Barbara Hollingsworth weighs in on this week's expensive photo-op over the skies of Manhattan.
• Today's Big Event: The Kathleen & Janet Show, better known as the now-daily HHS/DHS update on swine flu, kicks off at 1 p.m. The secretaries of health and human services and homeland security will be joined by their sidekick, Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More events here.
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