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Eye Opener: Surgeon General Dr. Gupta After All?

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! Today marks the start of Public Service Recognition Week, seven days of recognition for local, state and federal government employees. The main events, sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service, take place on the National Mall. Look out for The Eye on the Mall later this week!

As the swine flu continues to spread, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has earned good reviews for his calm explanation of the crisis. You'll recall the TV doctor (who's an Atlanta-based neurosurgeon) briefly flirted with joining the Obama administration as surgeon general. He eventually declined, citing Tom Daschle's absence from the cabinet and a desire to keep working his current day jobs.

But in an interview in Sunday's Outlook, Gupta admitted that he's basically served as the nation's chief doctor in his almost hourly reports on the health scare.

"The media has a very unique role, I think, in situations like this. We have to report the news, obviously, but there is a public health role as well, especially for someone like me who is a doctor on the ground here. So that is a lot of what the surgeon general does in situations like this, and with media, we reach a lot of people very quickly, so there is a lot of overlap," he said.

"I'm just not a guy who's ever lived in the world of regrets or second guessing myself. I just don't," he said when asked if he regretted passing on the surgeon general job. Read the full interview here.

Incidentally, The Post's Al Kamen writes today that he doesn't like either of the two widely-used names for the flu -- so he wants you to send in your suggested name for the flu that's killed hundreds around the world and then win an "In the Loop" t-shirt.

Cabinet and Staff News: Gates heads to Egypt and Syria. Clinton's approval ratings beats Obama's and she says she's just getting started. Geithner appears midday with Obama as he speaks about tax reform. Canadian newspaper says Napolitano might have been right after all about the U.S.-Canada border and would she consider a Supreme Court appointment? Locke speaks to The Post about the Census and Chrysler. Obama's recruiting causes headaches for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. An early look at which Obama administration officials are attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.

Obama to Offer More Budget Details on Thursday: The version "will offer greater detail on Obama's proposals for the coming fiscal year that begins in October," according to Reuters.

Earl Devaney Interviewed: After his first published interview appeared in the Federal Eye, Robert Brodsky of Government Executive speaks with the guy responsible for overseeing the distribution of economic stimulus funds.

The FBI on Twitter: Politico's Ben Smith realizes that the feds -- and several other government agencies -- have embraced the social media tool.

NASA Lacks Permanent Leader: The New York Times' Kenneth Chang lays out the challenges for the Space agency's next administrator, whenever Obama names ones.

Senators Accuse DOD of Delay in Recovering Millions: The New York Times' James Glanz writes that "The Pentagon has done little to collect at least $100 million in overcharges paid in deals arranged by corrupt former officials of Kellogg Brown & Root, the defense contractor, even though the officials admitted much of the wrongdoing years ago, two senators have complained in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates."

Panda Pregnancy Watch Begins at National Zoo: Volunteers started keeping watch over Mei Xiang Saturday night, reports The Post's Dan Morse.

Census Bureau Vexes Ex-Newswoman, Others Who Counted On a Job: Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Daniel Rubin recounts the difficulty faced by temporary census workers in the City of Brotherly Love.

Paper Firms Cashing In Before Loophole Plugged: "Federal government payments to the U.S. paper industry continued to mount during the first quarter, as companies raced to take advantage of a loophole that richly rewards them for a long-established method of burning byproducts of the pulping process," reports The Post's Steven Mufson. "During the first quarter, the Treasury pumped $540 million in cash and tax credits into the coffers of International Paper, one of several paper companies that qualify for billions of dollars in alternative fuel tax breaks under legislation that experts say was written for other purposes."

EPA Seeks Rules for Utilities' Runoff: Faced with new evidence that utilities across the country are dumping toxic sludge into waterways, the agency is moving to impose new restrictions on the level of contaminants power plants can discharge, reports The Post's Juliet Eilperin.

Finding Space for All in Our Crowded Seas: Eilperin also reports that "The ocean is getting crowded: Fishermen are competing with offshore wind projects, oil rigs along with sand miners, recreational boaters, liquefied gas tankers and fish farmers. So a growing number of groups -- including policymakers, academics, activists and industry officials -- now say it's time to divvy up space in the sea."

Evaluation of Chesapeake Goals Killed: The Post's David A. Fahrenthold writes today that "This winter, a round of bleak news about the Chesapeake Bay spurred environmental officials to begin asking a radical question: Was it finally time to lower their expectations? For weeks, bureaucrats gathered data to determine whether goals pursued for 25 years -- which call for restoration of the bay to its former vibrant health -- were "an impossible stretch. Then the research was killed after President Obama's new bay liaison and others objected to the effort."

Akaka Plans Bill to Shore Up Intelligence Workforce: "The bill -- modeled after one he introduced in 2003 that failed -- would expand student loan programs and national security fellowships, and rotation programs that would prepare mid-level employees for management positions by giving them assignments in other departments," reports Gov Exec's Alex M. Parker.

Multi-Agency Experience Needed for Many Executive Promotions: " Employees in national security-related jobs soon will need to have work experience at multiple agencies before becoming senior executives," reports Stephen Losey of the Federal Times. "The Office of Personnel Management has been working with national security agencies since December to develop joint-duty requirements for Senior Executive Service promotions. Such requirements exist at the Defense Department and intelligence agencies. But agencies such as the State, Homeland Security and Justice departments are among those that could see new joint-duty requirements put in place for some senior executive positions."

Today's Big Event: It's the final day of the Energy Department's Science Bowl. More here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 4, 2009; 5:40 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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