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Eye Opener: Flooding the Swine Flu Zone

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Friday! The Obama administration seems to have ably "flooded the zone" this week as virtually every federal agency has found away to get in on the swine/H1N1 flu action. Indeed the administration has drawn on almost every cabinet agency in some way, according to Scott Wilson and Spencer S. Hsu in today's Post. Two lower-profile examples: The National Archives launched a new online exhibit yesterday that recalls the great flu epidemic of 1918. The new site includes several historical documents, letters and photos from the outbreak that killed more people than died in World War I. Even the Government Printing Office felt compelled yesterday to issue a press release with "news" that it has printed 42,000 CDC traveler informational cards.

Of course, The Post has also flooded the zone: We've launched a new blog all about the swine/H1N1 flu outbreak.

(Current and Former) Cabinet and Staff News: Anita Dunn becomes deputy White House communications director. F-22 backers question Gates' Pentagon cuts. Condoleezza Rice defends Bush-era interrogation methods.

Administration Aide Suspected of Contracting Swine Flu: "An Energy Department employee who was part of the advance team for President Obama's recent trip to Mexico is suspected of having contracted the swine flu virus and transmitting it to his family in Anne Arundel County," according to The Post.

Agencies Turn to Internet To Spread Swine Flu Information: "References to swine flu in the blogosphere are far surpassing the actual spread of the virus itself. As the government tries to get in front of the rapid spread of information, it's learning some important lessons about how social media is used in crisis situations," according to NPR reporter -- and Post alum -- Yuki Noguchi.

But Don't Call it Swine Flu!: "Government officials, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, are going all out to tell us that pork products are safe to eat -- unless, of course, you are in a plane, train or any other confined location, which is, according to Vice President Biden, quite unsafe," writes The Post's Al Kamen. "In that same spirit, House Agriculture Committee communications director April Slayton sent an e-mail late Wednesday to all 'Democratic press secretaries' ..."

DOJ Official Violated Ethics Rules in Grant-Making: "A former Justice Department grant-making administrator violated federal ethics and procurement rules in awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in sole source contracts to ideologically favored companies and individuals, the department's inspector general concluded yesterday," reports The Post's Carrie Johnson. "The administrator, J. Robert Flores, was a political appointee during former president George Bush's administration who left his post after the inauguration in January. The department's public integrity section declined to pursue civil or criminal charges against Flores after ethics watchdogs forwarded their findings, investigators said."

Clinton-Era Deputy AG Found Dead: "Mark I. Levy, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration, was discovered by a co-worker about 8 a.m. in his 11th-floor office at Kilpatrick Stockton, in the 600 block of 14th Street NW, police said. They said evidence indicates that Levy shot himself in the head with a .38-caliber handgun," reports The Post's Del Quentin Wilber and Paul Duggan.

Senators Consider Term Appointment for Census Director: "Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) says there is a pretty good chance the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will push for something similar to how the IRS commissioner works," according to Federal News Radio.

Alejandro Mayorkas Tapped to Head Immigration Agency: "A former top Los Angeles federal prosecutor who was involved in a Clinton-era clemency controversy has been tapped to head an influential Department of Homeland Security immigration agency," reports Josh Meyer of the LA Times.

Mishandled Census Operations in Philadelphia: Former New York Times reporter Laura Mansnerus writes a lengthy account on about how the Census Bureau goofed in the City of Brotherly Love. Definitely worth your time.

Security Workforce Worries: "The national security workforce doesn't provide the security it should. That is one message that emerged from yesterday's testimony before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee," writes The Post's Joe Davidson. "The problem is too few people with needed skills, too few qualified applicants to fill vacancies and too little training for those on the job."

Survey Finds College Students More Interested in Federal Jobs: "A survey of career counselors at nearly 200 colleges and universities conducted last month found that 90 percent of the students working with their offices are interested in federal jobs or internships" writes The Post's Steve Vogel. "Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said interest in federal job opportunities has increased since the election in November."

From the Mind of Michael Brown: The former FEMA director shares his advice for his successor with Federal News Radio.

Obama's Energy Plans Remain Works In Progress: NPR gives a 100-days progress report on the administration's energy proposals.

Senator Seeks Indefinite Competitive Sourcing Freeze: "Legislation introduced on Wednesday by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., would suspend public-private job competitions indefinitely and encourage agencies to bring contracted work back in-house," reports Gov Exec's Elizabeth Newell.

New DOD Procurement Chief Lays it All Out: Newell pulls double duty, reporting that "Ashton Carter, who was sworn in as the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics on Monday, said Thursday that much of what would have been his first order of duty was accomplished during the lead-up to Defense Secretary Robert Gates' release of the department's budget request in early April."

S.C. Democrat Picked to Fill FCC Vacancy: "The Obama administration this week nominated Mignon Clyburn to a vacant Democratic seat on the Federal Communications Commission," reports The Post's Cecilia Kang. She's the daughter of House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.). "Her nomination leaves one position to be filled on the five-seat federal commission."

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 1, 2009; 5:49 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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