The FAA Corrals Its Brand

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Federal Aviation Administration chief Marion C. Blakey worries that people have been confusing her agency with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or worse, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

So Blakey last month signed an order establishing the FAA "Branding Identity Program" (FAABIP) to clarify matters. The FAA does so many wonderful things, she notes in a cover message to the order, "but it has not received proper credit for all the good work it does in so many areas because it does not have a strong brand identity."

And why is this? Because "dozens if not hundreds of different" logos have been used "in materials of all kinds." Blakey said she's heard that if you collected business cards at an agency meeting, "you would never guess that they all work for the same agency."

No more. From now on, there will be rules and regs. We will have "a circular gold border, a blue background bearing the white letter near its outer rim the words 'Federal Aviation' at the top and 'Administration' at the bottom."

An agency newsletter the next day noted that there probably "will be messages from some who will ask if we don't have bigger things to think about than cosmetics." Apparently not.

"One of the hallmarks of a successful business or organization is a strong single brand," the newsletter explains, "not separate brands for various parts of the organization; BMW, IBM, Boeing, Airbus, McDonald's, to name just a few."

" Phyllis Preston , who is the branding guru," the newsletter says, "likes to use the example of McDonald's. She says you don't see a separate logo for French Fries, and another for the hamburgers, and still another for milk shakes."

Well, there you have it.

News From the Front

This just in from the Green Zone in Baghdad: The hot new polo shirt in the zone is white with a diplomatic security badge on it and stitching below that says "Resistance Is Futile."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice , stuck last week on a runway in Irbil, Kurdistan, because of engine trouble, was working trade sanctions to impose on Iran. A reporter offered her a bottle of a popular brand of water -- imported from Iran. Rice quipped she wasn't sure she could get it through customs.

Phish Story

It is now clear there is no depth to which scam artists will not sink. The Congressional Budget Office sent out an e-mail recently warning that someone is using the CBO mailing list to get private information about those on the list.

"Several people have reported receiving an e-mail message that appears to have been sent from the Congressional Budget office," the e-mail said. "The message is actually Phish and appears to come from outside the U.S." (CBO stopped short of accusing our friend Madame Miriam Abacha from Nigeria.)

"We are not sure how many people received the message or how the address list was obtained [but] if you received an email message from: Budegt Office <list@cbo.gov>" and using a subject line that says "The Budget and Economic Outlook Fiscal Years 2007 to 2016," then "please delete it. Also, DO NOT click on the link at the bottom of the message. It could possibly infect your computer with spyware or a virus."

Most folks surely didn't need the warning. A government document purporting to know the "economic outlook" in 2016? Obviously phony.

The Bill That Keeps on Billing

The bills won't stop coming in from the 11-year-old independent counsel investigation of former housing secretary Henry G. Cisneros , who pleaded guilty in 1999 to a misdemeanor for understating the amount of money he had been giving his mistress.

The independent counsel, David M. Barrett , filed his final 474-page report in January, conceding he couldn't say for sure "whether any criminal laws were broken" by government officials when he went after Cisneros on tax charges. At that point, Barrett had billed the taxpayers $21 million.

Barrett's office closed May 3. His latest bills, according to a GAO report, totaled nearly $850,00 for the six months ending March 31. Personnel costs of $375,000 and utilities at $239,000 were the biggest items. Unclear whether there's another bill coming for April.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company