Folks at the U.S. Agency for International Development were a bit perplexed by an agency-wide "general notice" from the personnel department urging them not to look like slobs.

"All USAID employees are expected to dress in accordance with the standards of good taste, including being neat, clean and well-groomed," the July 29 "Work Attire Statement" says. "We do not want to establish a firm code of rules about what is considered proper attire," the memo says. And surely taxpayers don't want to pay AID people to do so.

But "it is important," the memo says, "to project a businesslike image to our customers, to our visitors, to our co-workers . . . and to the people upon whom we depend for funding, the Congress."

What, AID folks wondered, triggered this missive? Some sweaty guy in a muscle undershirt grossing out a senator in the elevator?

No, no, AID assistant administrator for legislative and public affairs J. Edward Fox said. The question of attire is "a summertime problem that comes up this time of year." The personnel office notice was intended to "gently remind everyone that this is a place of business and people are watching."

People overseas, those out in the boondocks doing the agency's heavy lifting, had wondered whether this was directed at them.

Not at all, Fox said. "AID employees work overseas in the most horrible of places," he said, noting that, if they are in a place such as Sudan, "they are lucky to have [any] clean clothes" at all.

But summer is when "a lot of people are back on home leave or for training," and "the Ronald Reagan Building is not an appropriate building to wear anything you want." The memo, he said, just says, "let's not act like you're out in the outback." So "dress like the natives," he said, "wherever you are, even here."

Musical Chairs for Flacks

Brian J. Roehrkasse, press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, Bush 2000 campaign veteran and formerly with the Transportation Department, is moving to the Justice Department to take over the press secretary slot vacated by Kevin Madden, who is working for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).

Also on the flack front, chatter is that John Miller, who has been the Los Angeles Police Department's counterterrorism chief for the past three years, is coming here to head the communications operation for the FBI. Miller, who also worked for the New York Police Department, is a former ABC News reporter best known for his 1998 interview in Afghanistan with terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Positive and Well-Circulated

And there, on the cover of the latest issue of AARP magazine, which features fine articles for the geezer set about reinventing yourself "at 50-plus," and "15 Ways to See, Hear and Feel Better," and how to "Retire Rich" or "Boost Brain Power" is none other than a smiling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She's 50.

The article is headlined "What Makes Condi Run," naturally raising the perpetual question of a Rice presidential, or perhaps California senatorial, run in the next few years.

The very, very, very positive piece, written by Ann Reilly Dowd, quotes Rice's "Aunt G." saying: "I don't think she'll run for office." Rice herself, though interviewed by Dowd a few years back, doesn't appear to have talked for the latest article.

But there are nice tidbits. We're told that when Rice met President Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, "the two talked politics, sports and the Christian faith they share. They jogged, played tennis and worked out. (At that point, she could bench-press 145 pounds 45 times.)"

So why the AARP magazine? Well, it bills itself as the "world's largest circulation magazine," at more than 22 million copies. That's more than twice Reader's Digest, triple that of Better Homes and Gardens and way more than the 5.4 million circulation of Time, the largest of the three big national newsweeklies.

Nah, not running.