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43 top agency jobs remain unfilled

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By Al Kamen
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Looking for a top job in a Cabinet-level agency? The pickings now are pretty slim, with only 43 such jobs available in the larger agencies. As a result of the Senate's shocking realization of its constitutional obligations two weeks ago -- who knew it was supposed to confirm presidential appointees? -- the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have no openings at all. The departments of Energy and Homeland Security have but one opening each.

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Of the 369 jobs at these agencies tracked by The Washington Post's Head Count, the White House has filled 88 percent (if those announced or formally nominated are included).

Still, some pretty good jobs are available. For example, there's the assistant secretary for import administration at the Commerce Department. That's the person who watches out for such things as illegal dumping of goods into this country. The job has been vacant since the beginning of the administration, and as recently as last month, Undersecretary Francisco Sanchez was saying that Commerce were still looking for someone.

This led to some grousing amongst the rank and file that if Sanchez were to spend more time looking and less time traveling, they'd find a candidate.

It's certainly true that Sanchez, a late-March recess appointee himself, has been on the road a goodly amount of late: a week or so in early May with health companies on a trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Qatar; another week in China at the end of May; then a week in Lima, Peru, and Bogota, Colombia, in late June. Next Wednesday he's off for a week to Eastern Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia) and Austria for a civil nuclear trade mission with U.S. executives.

But that may not be the reason for the opening. It seems the job is not an easy one to fill, especially because many of those qualified for it have been lobbyists. Apply quickly, though -- we hear Commerce is getting close to picking somebody. On the other hand, we've heard that before.

GOP in Cincinnati

Spotted Friday morning on a Delta flight from National to Cincinnati: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.).

Boehner, on his way home for some R&R after starting an antstorm with his comments on financial reform, was the first to board, settling into an exit-row window seat in coach. Another passenger complimented Boehner for his comments earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, in the first-class cabin, Bunning and his wife, Mary, found more comfortable seats partitioned away from the hoi polloi.

But upon arrival in Cincinnati, it was Boehner who avoided "the people," a Loop Fan reports. The speaker-in-waiting escaped through the jet-bridge stairway and into a black SUV waiting on the tarmac. The Bunnings, on the other hand, were left having to exit like every other passenger -- up the jet bridge, through the often-near-empty terminal and onto the moving sidewalks.

Sadly, no MMS M&Ms

Hurry! Only a few hours left to pick up some fine memorabilia from the late Minerals Management Service (MMS) being auctioned by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Some of our favorites -- the oil-drop paperweight ($125), the 1997 Al Gore Hammer Award for innovative achievements ($100) and Petey the Petroleum Loving Whale ($50) -- were quickly bid up to the asking prices. Other fine items -- the MMS "Never Take a Brake From Safety" lunch box ($100), the MMS Pedometer ($75), the exquisitely embossed MMS pen-and-pencil set and the MMS computer bag ($75) -- are still available.

The only two items without bids were both featured in MMS Safety Week 2009 -- the MMS antimicrobial hand sanitizer ($50) and the MMS snack calorie counter ($50). Germs and trans fats were a major MMS concern just months before the Great Spill!

The auction ends at noon Wednesday.

Graphics guru Karen Yourish

and research editor Alice Crites

contributed to this column.


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