By Al Kamen
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Today we launch Head Count, The Washington Post's interactive database to help you keep a sharp eye on the people President Obama is appointing to the nearly 500 top positions in the federal government that require Senate confirmation. The new feature will not only tell you who they are but also help you count all the demographic beans -- age, sex, ethnicity, education (elite schools or not), home states and so on.
At http://www.washingtonpost.com/headcount, you can search agency by agency to determine which jobs are still open, should your private-sector job be looking a little shaky these days. You can also search by individual to determine how many officials in this "change" administration are merely retreads from the Clinton days.
And Head Count will give some clues to help answer everyone's perennial question: How did that fool get that great job? It will also tell you who paid good, hard money or bundled huge sums for Obama/Biden, who worked on the campaign, who had the coveted Harvard Law connection, hailed from Chicago or was a pal of Michelle Obama, Tom Daschle or Ted Kennedy.
The appointments that are tracked by Head Count do not include judges, ambassadors, U.S. attorneys or U.S. marshals. We'll monitor those separately. Nor does the database include the many important officials who are not confirmed by the Senate. We'll be tweaking the database as we go, adding new categories, such as veterans, and making other additions.
Loop Fans can help! If you've got information we could use or suggestions about how to improve the site, please submit comments and updates at the link provided on the Head Count Web site.NOMINATING PARTY
The White House personnel logjam -- also known as the Great Daschle Debacle -- appears to have been broken. Team Obama's nominations operation began at a record pace. But IRS problems sparked Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle's withdrawal on Feb. 3, leading to a general revetting of nominees that stalled everything.
The numbers are startling. Obama, by the end of his first week in office, had announced 47 nominees for senior-most jobs. He'd officially nominated 37 of them, according to data compiled by New York University's Wagner School of Public Service Presidential Transition Project. (That number includes some holdovers.)
But in the month after Daschle's withdrawal, the White House announced only 10 candidates for Senate-confirmed positions and formally nominated only six people.
In the next three weeks, however, the pace ramped up sharply, with 42 nominees named. Official nominations have been slower -- only 27 during that time. But there were 15 last week, and we're told there are plenty in the pipeline. As of yesterday, there were 39 Senate-confirmed individuals on the job. (That includes seven holdovers.)
The push now is to get as many nominees up to the Senate -- and get confirmation for the three dozen or so already up there -- before the Senate slithers out of town on April 3.CLINTON FAN TO STATE?
Word is that Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces and a staunch superdelegate for presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, is in line for a top post at the State Department, most likely undersecretary for arms control and nonproliferation.
It had been widely reported that highly regarded arms control guru Robert Einhorn, who had been assistant secretary for arms control in the Bill Clinton administration, was penciled in to move up to that post, but we're hearing he has turned it down for personal reasons. And Secretary of State Clinton did, after all, win the California primary.
Einhorn will likely be named to a senior adviser position on nonproliferation matters.THE LIFE OF ROONEY
Lady Luck naturally smiled on Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney on St. Patrick's Day yesterday, the day the White House chose to announce his long-expected nomination to be ambassador to Ireland. Rooney, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who led the Steelers to a record six national championships, is a lifelong Republican.
Even so, he endorsed Obama and stumped with the candidate, a crucial stamp of approval in a football-crazed and electorally critical swing state.
Rooney, who needs to be confirmed by the Senate for the job, has long been active in Irish organizations. He co-founded the Ireland Funds, a nonprofit group that raises money to support education and the arts in Ireland. In 1976 he established the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, which is awarded to young Irish writers.
Super Bowl and Dublin? Sounds like a pretty good year.JOURNALISM AND POLITICS
T.R. Reid, our former colleague here at The Post, foreign correspondent of some note and an expert in health care -- he's spent the last three years writing a book on health care around the world -- is running for a newly opened seat in the Colorado House of Representatives. Reid says that he wants to make health care a right, not a privilege, and that he thinks he might be able to get that started in Colorado. The election is a week from Thursday.