Federal City Digest

Federal City Digest

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On the White House List of Waste: One Job

It's never a good sign when the president of the United States singles out your last job as an example of wasteful and inefficient government spending.

In a White House memo released yesterday, the Education Department's education policy attache to the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris was named on a broader list of budget-cutting priorities. It was the only job so named.

The Bush-era post was most recently held by Sally Lovejoy, who was appointed to it in mid-2006 after serving on the House Education Committee and stepped down Jan. 15. Before that, Gail Randall held the position, from Sept. 1, 2003, to Jan. 31, 2006.

Education Department spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya struggled to describe the post's duties, finally saying the attache represented the department in UNESCO meetings.

"These things can be done via teleconference and e-mail," she added, "and that's why we're eliminating the position."

The White House said the job cost the government $713,000 a year, but Abrevaya said it actually came in a bit lower, at $631,554.

That includes the following: one GS-15 salary, plus benefits; one Paris apartment, plus parking; travel and moving expenses; education costs for children of up to $60,000; and $170,000 for International Cooperative Administrative Support Services, an expenses-sharing mechanism used by agencies for overseas staff.

WHAT TO WATCH

-- President Obama will meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House and later present the commander in chief's football trophy to the Naval Academy in the Rose Garden. In the afternoon, he is expected to sign the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act at the District's SEED School, where he will exhort Americans to service.

-- It's Earth Week, and today the House Energy and Commerce Committee will kick off four days of speaker-heavy hearings on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

-- The Senate Finance Committee is finally scheduled to vote on the nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, above, to be secretary of health and human services; it also will hold a roundtable-style morning hearing on "Reforming America's Health Care Delivery System."


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