Top staffers at the scandal-rocked Federal Supply Service (FSS) have been busy updating their resumes, while others are checking out their elegibility for retirement. Reason is the arrival this week of a new boss, William P. Kelly Jr.
The rumor mill has it that the broom job" Kelly has been told to do by the head of the housekeeping agency, General Services Administrator Jay Solomon, will begin with a top-level personnel housecleaning. Kelly's office said yesterday that no such order has gone out - despite assertion's by employes that some bosses have already been told to pack up - because Kelly hasn't sized up people yet.
FSS is a major unit of the GSA. It buys everything from pencils and paper clips to bulldozers and buildings for the government. Several GSA mid-level employes have been indicted by federal grand juries for allegedly taking bribes. But the "big fish" hinted at have yet to be landed.
Insiders say it is only a matter of time before some high-level heads begin to roll. They expect the courts to handle some of the problems, and look for other officials to take the diplomatic route of resigning or retiring "for reasons of health" shortly.
A high GSA official yesterday said the agency will not sweep things under the rug. "We don't plan to detail people to Alaska, or create 'turkey farms'" where government incompetent, are often kept out of harm's way, but still on the payroll. Although the official said it is "damn near impossible" to fire anyone in government, he said Kelly at FSS would be "delighted" if some senior staffers decided to retire or find other work.
GSA has been a human dumping ground for both Republicans and Democratic politicians seeking jobs for friends. Many of its best career people have left, or been pushed aside for promotion.
As a result of decades of bipartisan mishandling of GSA, the Solomon aide said that "many of the less desirable rose to the top." Many of them, he said, were not corrupt, but "overly anxious to please" politicians seeking jobs or contracts for friends.
GSA's new team, headed by the multimillionair shopping center developer from Tennessee, believes much of the climate that allowed wrongdoing was created by very top officials. The "monkey-see monkey-do attitude," as one put it, is the reason GSA paid millions of dollars for goods never received, and handed out contracts for jobs that weren't done or were improperly done. Many of those officials and the employes they influenced are still in place, the official said.
Solomon reportedly took a $3 million loss in his own company stock that he sold after he was confirmed by the Senate. The committee told him to unload it when he chose. But Solomon sold quickly.
"We know people are just looking to hit us (the new team) with a mud-ball," a GSA official said. "Solomon doesn't want anything that even appears like a conflict of interest."
GSA officials expect the top-level housecleaning will also extend into the Public Building Service and other operations in which investigators find evidence that top brass and managers have acted illegally or improperly. "You can cut the pressure with a knife here," a longtime worker said. "A lot of us are betting we will be getting new bosses for Christmas presents."
Veterans Day: It returns to its old Nov. 11 spot on the calendar next month. Some years back Congress switched it to the fourth Monday in October. But Wrold War I veterans groups (still smarting over the name change from Armistice Day to Veterans Day) lobbied to have it returned to Nov. 11. That will take place this years. However, since Nov. 11 falls on Saturday, the once-Monday holiday will be celebrated this year on the preceding Friday. Our thanks to Congress for making things less confussing!
Letter Carriers Election: Several dropped lines here yesterday had incumbent union chief J. Joseph Vacca losing to the wrong man. Unofficial returns from the union show Vincent Sombretto the winner over Vacca, who supported the new union contract and opposed a strike.
Little carrier union members voted against Vacca for not being tough enough, but they have overwhelmingly endorsed the contract - with life-time job guarantees - he helped write.
Meanwhile, the American Postal Workers Union is counting mail ballots, with the big contest between incumbent Emmet Andrews and challenger John Napurano.
HEW EARLY OUT: Officials at Health, Education and Welfare say there is no plan in the works to offer eligible workers the option to retire early. HEW did permit a large number of Grade 12 and above employes to quit early (age 50 with 20 years) in anticipation of job cutbacks. That benefit has been extended to Social Security headquarters in Baltimore and here. But there is not any proposal to allow lower-grade workers to take the early-out option.