By Al Kamen
Friday, July 9, 2010; A16
Outgoing Office of Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag has plenty to do before he leaves his job in the next few weeks. OMB needs to finish its "mid-session review" of key budget estimates -- which is due July 15, as in Thursday. He's got to plan his Sept. 25 wedding in New York to ABC News reporter Bianna Golodryga. (The couple are registered at Bloomingdale's.)
Beyond some speculation that he may be going to a think tank for a while before heading off for serious Wall Street money, there's been nothing specific about his plans. (And, after all, there's that growing family to feed -- two kids from a first marriage and the 7-month-old girl he fathered with an ex-girlfriend.)
OMB spokesman Kenneth S. Baer told reporters last month that "Peter's focused on his work, not on Washington speculation."
Still, it was good to hear that he hadn't stopped thinking about tomorrow. We got an e-mail the other day saying that Jeremy Steele, a senior vice president at the Harry Walker Agency, a top booking agency for public speakers, wanted to "share some exciting news."
"As you probably know, Peter Orszag, the 37th Director of the Office of Management and Budget, is stepping down at the end of July," Steele said. (A White House official confirmed Thursday afternoon that it would be July 30.) "We will have the honor of representing him exclusively for all of his speaking engagements which take place after he leaves office." Steele included as background an Orszag profile from WhoRunsGov.com.
Signing up for an exclusive deal is surely the way to go, and Harry Walker is an excellent selection. Orszag joins a stellar stable, including Henry Kissinger, Karl Rove and Bono and featuring former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.
It's unclear how much Orszag will get per speech -- should be up to about $25,000 or so, according to two sources handled by the agency. That's a fine start.Those were the days
Speaking of the OMB, there's word that the White House has made another run at Clinton administration OMB director Jacob "Jack" Lew, who headed the place back when there were actually budget surpluses far as the eye can see, to come back from Foggy Bottom, where he's deputy secretary of state. But there's strong resistance from Madam Secretary.The fight's just begun
Seems the long-simmering battle over who is going to run U.S. overseas development aid -- we're talking many billions of dollars -- is heating up again. The question is whether the State Department, which has worked over the years to make the Agency for International Development a wholly owned subsidiary, is going to be in charge or whether AID will be a relatively independent operation.
There are signs it could be bloody.
For example, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) is working on new legislation and recently circulated a preliminary draft of just the preamble to the first title (or chapter) of an 11-title bill. The State Department quickly saw a major problem.
We got a July 2 e-mail circulating among State Department folks with "Subject: . . . Discussion Draft of Foreign Assistance Bill 'Global Partnerships Act of 2010.' "
The e-mail noted that one provision was "providing for a committee of 15 participants, which include the Secretary of State only as a co-equal member as opposed to placing her as the lead, as had been earlier requested; and others do not vest authorities in the Secretary, as had been requested for comparable provisions."
This will not do. She must be at the head of the table.
Outside development groups argue that this view seems at variance with President Obama's commitment for what the White House called his "new approach to development." Obama's recently released National Security Strategy, the announcement said, noted that "development, diplomacy, and defense are components of a comprehensive, integrated approach to the challenges we face today."
The Pentagon says it wants out of the development business because that's not what it does. So the question, which apparently the White House will resolve, is whether development is going to be a distinct, though coordinated, function. That is, who's going to be in charge of development out in the field.
There's not going to be a return to the days when ambassadors in some countries had less clout than the AID directors, who had fatter wallets. But Obama, always deferential to Clinton, may have to make some hard structural decisions.But how does it end?
The Air Force Research Institute wants its folks at Maxwell AFB to read a book with a truly gloomy title: "In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan." Despite the title, and the grim history of others -- the British, the Russians -- who have ventured into Afghanistan, the new book by Rand Corp. political scientist Seth Jones is not entirely discouraging.
Jones, who worked for Gen. Stanley McChrystal and advises the Pentagon, still thinks things may work out. The Air Force is buying 2,500 copies. (Bestseller lists are wary of bulk sales.) Everyone had better read quickly, very quickly.A new No. 2 G-man
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller has tapped Timothy P. Murphy, an associate deputy director and 12-year veteran of the bureau, to be the FBI's deputy director. Murphy, who has been in charge of the Cincinnati division and assistant special agent in charge of the Washington field office, succeeds John S. Pistole, who left to be administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.