The Job Corps, perennial target of budget-cutters, is again headed for the chopping block, according to Labor Department sources. But the 1,500 employes at the Bureau of Labor Statistics can breathe easier about their future this holiday season -- and so can Whiskers the Rabbit, the beloved pet of the 80 children at the department's day care center in department headquarters.
The department's "rough draft" of the fiscal 1987 budget has gone to the Office of Management and Budget, and while the estimated $9 billion operating budget includes funds for the Job Corps, OMB is expected to again seek its demise.
Department sources estimate that OMB wants cuts approaching $1 billion, but Undersecretary Dennis E. Whitfield would say only, "We get the sense they are still wrestling with their numbers."
The Job Corps, highly praised for its job-placement record but criticized for its high per-capita job-training costs, was rescued by Congress this year from the Reagan administration budget hatchet, but it is considered vulnerable because of its $600 million price tag.
The BLS, whose employes are scattered among four downtown office buildings, will not be moving to the suburbs. A move backed by the General Services Administration and some members of Congress would have shifted the bureau to a suburban office-park, possibly in Crystal City, Prince George's Plaza or the Dulles airport area.
The proposal, opposed by department officials and representatives of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Local 12, was scuttled this week by the House Public Works Committee, Whitfield said. David Schlein, the AFGE local's chief steward, said roughly 40 percent of BLS workers are D.C. residents and would have been inconvenienced by a move.
Instead of moving, the department plans to consolidate BLS at the Bicentennial building on E Street NW as space becomes available, Whitfield said.
WHISKERS' WESCUE . . . In one of his first official acts after being sworn in last week, Whitfield personally intervened to speed the return of Whiskers, who ran afoul of bureaucracy and health regulations and was recently removed from his cage at the day care center in the Frances Perkins Building.
Unidentified officials said the rabbit had to be removed because he lacked the proper shots and because it was unclear who would authorize his treatment and continued residency at the center.
Whitfield was alerted to the Whiskers situation when he visited the center for a Christmas tree lighting ceremony last week and saw a sign labelled "Sad Kids" on the empty cage. He ordered that the shots be administered, the bill sent to him, and the rabbit returned. The wheels turn slowly, however, and Whiskers is being held at an undisclosed location pending completion of the rescue.
RECUPERATION . . . Labor Secretary William E. Brock's wife, Laura (Muffet) Brock, is reported to be improving following her hospitalization for a yet-undiagnosed lung ailment.