But after a while, even that apparently gets old. And we’re told that the excellencies tend to get antsy about coming home after their three-year assignments in Rome, London and such.
Despite the perks, some apparently want to leave their $160,000-a-year government jobs and resume lucrative careers. Many were preparing to do that during the summer or around election time.
Not so fast, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
told the 60 or so political appointees in town for a meeting last month for all ambassadors.
In what, as far as we can tell, is an unprecedented “request,” Clinton told them to stay at their posts until “the Senate has confirmed a replacement.”
Sure, there’s an election, she told them, but “the foreign policy of the United States . . . does not stop for elections. It requires consistent direction and management. So it is important that our ambassadors work to remain at their posts until either the Senate has confirmed a replacement or specific departure instructions are given.”
“We don’t know if we will get people confirmed in the current political climate,” Clinton said, “so we very much encourage you insofar as possible to stay.”
The pronouncement, a former ambassador under George W. Bush observed, may be “the first time in history ambassadors are urged to stay, versus the good old days when they were encouraged to leave so that others can get a chance to ‘serve’ and the White House can take care of yet another donor.”
Of course, if Mitt Romney wins, all of them will be “freed” to come home no later than Jan. 20. If President Obama is reelected, they could be imprisoned in those mansions for a long, long time.
Well, worse things can happen.
The watchman’s gone
The recent General Services Administration scandal over clowns and such at a Las Vegas conference reminds us, among other things, of the importance of having an inspector general in place in all federal agencies.
But the Project on Government Oversight notes that, with the addition of the Labor Department over the holiday weekend, there are now four agencies in the watchdog community’s “1,000-day vacancy club.”
In the esteemed club longest is the State Department, where there’s been no confirmed inspector general for more than 1,500 days. The Interior Department is next, trailing State by about 400 days, POGO reports, and the Corporation for National and Community Service just last month qualified for membership in the 1,000-day vacancy club.
Having Senate-confirmed — as opposed to “acting” — IGs in place is important if taxpayers are to have even a modicum of confidence in the ability of government to protect against waste, fraud and abuse.
As Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) notes, “Even the best acting inspector lacks the standing to make lasting changes needed to improve his or her office.”
It is inexcusable, as POGO says, that these jobs are vacant and that there’s not even a nominee for the State Department job.
They said it
The envelope, please. The Jackass Award goes to . . . the General Services Administration.
The agency, already smarting from that Las Vegas affair, has a new reason to cringe: GSA employees made up bogus prizes, including a “Jackass Award,” to justify taxpayer-funded dinners, Roll Call reports.
An employee told the agency’s inspector general that supervisors would invent reasons to honor employees at conferences so they could serve dinner. The Jackass Award was given at one conference to an employee “for doing something stupid,” the employee said, according to a transcript of the interview with the IG that Roll Call obtained.
The fake awards follow on the heels of all kinds of embarrassing revelations about the GSA’s conferences. The Las Vegas confab that drew criticism featured a clown and a “mentalist,” and another GSA event — also held in Sin City — included a motivational speech by the man who inspired the football flick “Rudy.”
If the GSA is giving out awards for employees “doing something stupid,” it probably has plenty of candidates to choose from.
Joey B. in the house
Think hip, happening hot spots and, let’s face it, you don’t usually think of Joe Biden. But the vice president will be hanging out at one of the city’s coolest new venues Tuesday night when he hosts a fundraiser for his boss at the newly renovated historic Howard Theater.
Tickets to the event — being thrown by Gen44, the campaign’s under-40 donors — are $250 for VIP admission and $1,000 for “hosts.”
Former Redskin Clinton Portis will be on hand as well, and D-Nice is spinning.
Maybe Biden is more of a hipster than we thought.
With Emily Heil
The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.