Many federal agencies are filling gaps left by civilian staff members called to active military service as part of the Persian Gulf buildup.
But probably no office anywhere -- federal or private -- has taken as big a hit as the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. The eight-member agency is right across the street from the White House.
Despite its peaceful sounding title and the all-woman work force, 25 percent of the staff has been mobilized. The commission runs the coveted 26-year-old fellowship program started by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It brings some of the nation's brightest young people in for a one-year, high-level work experience to see how official Washington operates.
Last week, staff members Patricia Holmes and Margaret Johnson were put on military alert. Holmes is the commanding officer in a military police unit of the D.C. Army National Guard, and Johnson is a sergeant in the unit. They are with their unit awaiting orders.
Most federal agencies have temporarily lost workers because of the Reserves and Guard call-up. Many of the units have high percentages of federal workers -- and increasingly women -- as members. The government, unlike some private firms, encourages employees to belong to the units and attend military training sessions.
The alert came at a crucial time for the commission, which selects people to work either as special assistant to a Cabinet member or with senior White House staff members. About 20,000 people request information on the fellowships annually. About 1,000 complete the tough application form. Eleven to 19 get picked each year in the four-stage culling process. Graduates of the program include Sen. Timothy E. Wirth (D-Colo.) and Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Fellows can be paid up to $61,000 per year.
This is deadline week for processing applications. The staff member in charge is one who got the call to uniform. Director Marcy Head said the six remaining staff members can cope, "but we've had to do some fast retraining. I bet we are the only all-female staff in government where 25 percent of our people have been called to military duty."
The International Personnel Management Association has given its All Star Team award for outstanding accomplishments to Charles E. Buhl and Timothy J. Hansen, Navy; Robert T. Dillon, NIH; Antoinette C. Hawkins, Air Force; Mark Holdrege, Census; and Raymond M. Spratt, Office of Personnel Management. Jacqueline Orscher of the Internal Revenue Service got a special award for humanitarian service.
Keeping In Touch
The National Federation of Federal Employees says its members who are serving in the Persian Gulf will continue to get regular union publications and bulletins. Several of the independent union's civilian members have been mobilized as part of the buildup in Saudi Arabia. Although the union can't represent them while they are in uniform, it plans to keep them posted to make their return to civilian life easier.