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Eye Opener: Snip Snip Snip...

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Friday! So will Obama's mandated cost cuts have any real impact?

"Experts said the cost-cutting measures will do little to restore fiscal responsibility and are at best a symbolic early move," reports The Post's Philip Rucker. "At worst, they said, the savings, which amount to a fraction of 1 percent of Obama's $3.6 trillion budget, are so obvious and picayune that by making them a major focus of his first Cabinet meeting, the president may have given the impression that he is not serious about controlling spending."

Robert Bixby, executive director of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition, told Rucker the cost-cutting measures are "silly."

"It just seems like such a low bar that it may actually send a signal opposite of what they intend," he said. "It's like if you're going to go on a diet and you announce that you're going to give up carrot sticks and water, people might question how serious you are about the diet."

Staff and Cabinet News: LaHood explains how DOT's stimulus funds get doled out and what it's like being a Republican in a Democrat's cabinet. Clinton says progress on establishing a Palestinian state must go "hand-in-hand" with efforts to stem Iranian influence in the Mideast. OPM's Berry gets sworn in with First Lady Michelle Obama looking on and says federal government has failed at improving diversity in the workforce. Commerce's Locke gets questioned on the Census and NOAA's satellites and vows no use of sampling. DOD's Gates indicates he supported the release of sensitive memos on detainee interrogation, because he viewed their ultimate disclosure as inevitable; he declined to say whether his private advice to Obama was to release or withhold the documents. EPA's Jackson gets the TIME Magazine treatment. DOJ's Holder going to Europe.

In other news...

The Transition Lingers On: Al Kamen writes about the team of George W. Bush holdovers running his transition out of Washington.

Employee Poll Makes VOA's Parent the Worst Place to Work: "BBG stands for the Broadcasting Board of Governors. But it could just as well mean 'bottom of the barrel in government,' writes The Post's Joe Davidson. "In a poll of employees in 37 agencies, the BBG came in last place in three of four categories -- leadership and knowledge management, results-oriented performance, and talent management. The broadcasters did manage a 36th-place showing in job satisfaction. To make matters worse, the agency dropped in each of the categories from the previous survey."

GAO: States Struggling With Stimulus Funding: The Eye reports that "Most state governments have barely touched their federal economic stimulus money and some state officials have expressed concern that they may not be able to manage the extra money and oversight." Gov Exec's Elizabeth Newell reports that GAO "recommended that the Office of Management and Budget clarify what portion of the stimulus funds could be spent helping states 'ensure accountability and oversight' of the economic recovery program."

Stranded Census Workers Found in Upper Peninsula: "State police say two workers with the U.S. Census Bureau who were stranded on an isolated road in Menominee County [Mich.] have been found after an eight-hour search," the AP reports. "A news release from the Stephenson post said the women's car got stuck Wednesday night on the seasonal road."

IRS Awards Tax Payment Contract to RBS Worldpay: "The contract award comes a month after credit card giant Visa said RBS was no longer in compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards, a set of guidelines designed to protect cardholder data," writes Brian Krebs of's Security Fix blog.

Gates Nominates New Air Force IG: Federal News Radio reports that his pick is Air Force Maj. Gen. Marc Rogers, currently is the vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

2 Senators Agree to Let Defense Nomination Go Forward: "The move should pave the way for a vote by the full Senate in coming days on the nomination of Ashton Carter, a Harvard professor, to succeed John Young as defense under secretary for acquisitions, technology and logistics," Reuters reports.

Gonzales Intervened on Lawmaker: "The director of the Central Intelligence Agency concluded in late 2005 that a conversation picked up on a government wiretap was serious enough to require notifying Congressional leaders that Representative Jane Harman, Democrat of California, could become enmeshed in an investigation into Israeli influence in Washington," reports NYT's Mark Mazzetti and Neil A. Lewis.

U.S. May Raise Cap on Grants for High-Tech Power Grid: "The Energy Department might revise its guidelines for $4.5 billion in smart grid grants after major electric utilities complained that the proposed $20 million-per-grant limit was too low to encourage commercial-scale deployment of advanced technologies," reports The Post's Steven Mufson.

House Panel's File Sharing Investigation May Be Misguided: "A House committee pushing the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to prosecute those who use file-sharing services to download sensitive information would do better to convince agencies to stop employees from downloading the popular applications in the first place," reports NextGov's Jill R. Aitoro.

Getting to Bottom of Passport Processing Flaws Proves Thorny: "The State Department's management and union clashed this week over the root causes of passport processing mistakes revealed by the Government Accountability Office last month -- but seemed to agree there were systemic problems in State's Bureau of Consular Affairs," reports Gov Exec's Alex M. Parker.

Loyal F-22 Booster Undeterred by Weakened Campaign: Megan Scully of CongressDaily/Gov Exec writes that "As the F-22 Raptor's once-strong coalition of supporters off the Hill begins to crumble, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said Wednesday he will continue to push to secure funding for 60 more of the stealthy Air Force fighters."

Kelley Hopes to Talk Soon With OPM Deputy Director: They haven't met yet, but the NTEU president says she hopes it won't be long before she meets with Christine Griffin, according to Federal News Radio.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 24, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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thank you, Ed, for your articles, which I look forward to every day. In the above scenarieo, Snip,Snip, we see business as usual, no one giving up anything-sounds like the union at GM, doesn't it??? We, called uneducated morons, out here are still writting to senators and representatives and asking them, I even beg them, to stop spending, printing money, and borrowing from China unless we all need to learn to speak Chinese for the near future. I just learned yesterday that the nation's education system cost the taypayers more than "health care"..Can you imagine that?? Worse, look what we are getting for our money??? Maybe, if we restored some respect for teachers by students and their parents, we just might see such an increase in learning that it might just amaze us all. Now, this is an issue that Congress could probably do something about that would help our beautiful America..Thank you again.

Posted by: noseyten | April 24, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

The cost cutting measures are barely a gesture. It's ridiculous. Word has it that DHS is cutting newspaper and magazine subscriptions in order to comply - a laudable move in theory but if the overall goal RIGHT NOW is to support the economy, thrashing newspapers isn't a strong move. Newspapers across the country are on the verge of disappearing - this sends the wrong message entirely... and it's not just about newspapers, it's just an example that this is a truly misguided effort.

Posted by: govstation | April 24, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Cutting $100 million from the federal budget is called trivial, yet paying $169 million in bonuses to AIG started nationwide outrage and provoked death threats to the executives???

Just trying to make sense of it all...

Posted by: jcbcmb68 | April 24, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Despite critics’ claims that Obama’s cost-cutting measures are too “obvious,” Obama is taking a big step in initiating the first in what I hope will be his promised overhaul of the federal government. The President understands that change is incremental and any massive federal cost-cutting would be too massive a culture change in a government ruled by the status quo. Yes, $100 million is trivial in any economy, faltering or not, and DHS should have been buying its supplies in bulk since its inception. But it hasn’t and the rest of the government has not operated efficiently for, well, I don’t know, has it ever? So how do you change and improve a gargantuan institution that has never had to seriously answer for inefficient practices and spending? The solution cannot be implemented overnight, because forced change is not sustainable change. Organizational changes must be phased in slowly. Obama has the buy-in to do so and he’s keeping federal agencies happy by not making serious demands, just asking them to be doing what they should have been all along. He’s raising the bar just a little so that the government can still meet its goals. I hope many more snips follow, slowly, but surely. He has four years and if his changes are gradual, we might just give him four more to fulfill his campaign promise.

Posted by: cdmpa2009 | April 24, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with Joe on highlighting the dismal performance of VOA. The VOA Deewa Radio performance has plummited in recent months in terms of achieving objectives. They are at the bottom of list in "Talent Management" beause some very talented journalists have either been fired or they have quit as a result of management issues. The management is very good at promoting nepotism and family ties. You will only find it in Deewa Radio that a wife, sister and first cousin of an influential manager are working at the same place!!

Posted by: FormerContractor | April 27, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

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