Eye Opener: DOT Hires More to Process 'Clunkers'
Happy Tuesday! The Obama administration will triple the number of workers processing cash-for-clunkers transactions as some auto dealerships complain the government has been slow to reimburse them for the incentives of up to $4,500 a vehicle.
The AP reports that "the Transportation Department hoped to have 1,100 public and private sector workers processing the vouchers by the end of the week, up from a work force of about 350 through the end of last week."
This is of great interest to The Eye because -- full disclosure! -- he turned in his clunker over the weekend for a new vehicle. (The new car smell rocks!)
"Some dealers have reported submitting tens of thousands of dollars -- in some cases more -- worth of rebates to the federal government for repayment that are still outstanding. Many report they have been repaid for only a small fraction of the deals they made under the program, creating a strain on cash flows."
"The government said on Monday that dealers have submitted requests for rebates that total $1.6 billion -- more than half of the money provided to the program -- through the online system set up to process and pay the claims. The program has led to more than 390,000 vehicle sales."
Regardless of its stalled start (Ha!), the clunkers program joins a growing list of government programs (TARP, stimulus projects, more AmeriCorps volunteers) that has created more jobs for public or private sector employees.
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• Listen to The Pentagon: The Defense Department has launched a new section of its redesigned Web site that archives audio recordings of daily news briefings and major speeches by Secretary Robert Gates and other top officials. The redesigned DefenseLink.mil site links to DOD's Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and podcast pages. (It's reportedly designed to appeal to younger audiences.)
• White House Launches 'Rural Tour' Site: As if the DOD redesign wasn't enough, you can track the Cabinet secretaries as they visit rural (read: purple) states across the country. The site prominently features Iowa native/Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack -- probably because it's owned and operated by the Agriculture Department. Oh, there's also a Rural Tour Twitter feed.
• Cabinet and Staff News: Hillary Clinton intends to make women's rights a signature issue. FDIC chief says parts of the financial regulatory plans won't fly. The new NIH chief won't inject his religious convictions.
• Obama Says Marriage Law Should Be Repealed: The White House distanced itself Monday from legal arguments it had made earlier this summer, taking pains to remove and renounce language that had outraged advocates in the gay community.
• Obama Targets Backlog Of Veterans' Claims: Under the plan announced Monday, rank-and-file employees with VA's Veterans Benefits Administration will be asked to suggest, through a Web-based computer program, how to reduce the department's backlog.
• 5th Person Pleads Guilty to Passport Snooping: A 22-year veteran of the State Department from Temple Hills, Md., pleaded guilty Monday to illegally accessing more than 125 confidential passport applications for celebrities, professional athletes and a politician.
• Appropriators, Obama Agree on Program Terminations: House and Senate appropriators plan to ax 11 of the 48 discretionary, nonmilitary programs targeted for termination earlier this year, according to an analysis of fiscal 2010 budget documents and appropriations bills.
• End-of-Year IT Spending Expected to Increase More Than in Past Years: Procurement specialists did not say how much larger the spike would be, but some estimate agencies have between 15 percent and 20 percent of their IT budgets left to spend.
• Veterans to Routinely Be Offered HIV Tests: Under the new policy, veterans must verbally consent to the test, and they can opt to decline it.
• NTSB Urges Safeguards for Flap Settings on Certain Jetliners: As part of the nonbinding recommendations released Monday, the agency focused on ways to ensure proper deployment of flaps, or movable wing panels needed to provide lift during takeoff.
• SEC Delays Action on Restricting Short Sales: The agency has encountered questions about the cost and effectiveness of its proposals, as well as the speed with which they could be put into practice.
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