Federal City Digest

Federal City Digest

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the president
Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the president "plays to win." (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From High Schools To Hoops and Beyond

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a longtime friend of the president's from Chicago, spoke to The Washington Post's Lois Romano at his department last week, advocating for children to be engaged with schools throughout the year so that they no longer suffer "summer reading loss" and for giving teachers more discretion in reaching the standards set by the No Child Left Behind law. He also revealed that he has been shooting hoops with the president, who plays a tough game. "What I think folks are -- are starting to realize is how competitive and how tough he is, and he's a super-nice guy and a great smile, but he plays to win," Duncan says. Go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/voices-of-power on Wednesday to watch the full interview.

Enlisting Citizens to Track Stimulus Fraud

The Government Accountability Office is asking Americans to join its effort to track any waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the economic stimulus program by using its online FraudNet tool, our colleague Ed O'Keefe reports.

"Experience tells us that the risk of fraud and abuse grows when large sums are spent quickly, eligibility requirements are being established or changed, and new programs created," Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general and head of the GAO, noted in a statement.

In addition to citizen fraud reporting, the federal government has mandated bimonthly reviews of how states and cities use stimulus monies.


-- President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama depart for London at 8 a.m., the first leg of a week-long trip that will take them across Europe and to Turkey.

-- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continues her own European trip. She is attending the International Conference on Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context, at the World Forum in The Hague.

-- Six months already! The Senate Finance Committee continues its oversight hearings on the Troubled Asset Relief Program with an update as we hit the half-year mark. Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for TARP; Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel; and the GAO's Dodaro testify.

-- The Department of Health and Human Services moves a step closer to getting its secretary as Kathleen Sebelius (D) goes before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at 10 a.m., in advance of her Senate Finance Committee hearing beginning Thursday.

-- The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee continues its consideration of a slew of top-level State Department nominees and ambassadors: Esther Brimmer, to be assistant secretary for international organization affairs; Karl Eikenberry, to be ambassador to Afghanistan; Philip Gordon, to be assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs; Rose Gottemoeller, to be assistant secretary for verification and compliance; Christopher Hill, to be ambassador to Iraq, Richard Verma, to be assistant secretary for legislative affairs; and Melanne Verveer, to be ambassador at large for global women's issues.

-- Between a water shortage and high unemployment, California is having unfortunate flashbacks to the '30s. Today, the House Natural Resources Committee holds an oversight hearing on "The California Drought: Actions by Federal and State Agencies to Address Impacts on Lands, Fisheries and Water Users," featuring six California lawmakers; Mary M. Glackin, deputy undersecretary of commerce at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and others.

-- Garance Franke-Ruta


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