Mamas, please let your babies grow up to be . . . federal workers?

Seems kids aren’t much interested in working for the federal government these days, according to a recent poll, and the National Treasury Employees Union is fixin’ to do something about that.

An Ipsos Public Affairs poll, commissioned by the NTEU, found that only 8 percent of adults with kids said their children wanted to be federal workers, according to Government Executive, a trade magazine.

And this reluctance comes at a time of a predicted retirement “wave . . . with more than a third of career federal employees projected to be eligible for collecting their end-of-career benefits by September 2017,” our colleague Josh Hicks reported.

So NTEU President Colleen Kelley told Government Executive that the union is launching a national media campaign to encourage parents to tell their kids about the greatness of federal employment, “even though that’s not the first place they think to work.” There are “interesting jobs in nearly every field,” she said.

Maybe so. But judging from the reader comments at the end of the article, the campaign better be first-rate. The first comment was: “Really? I would have to think long and hard before suggesting a federal career for my children. Political persecution, pay freezes, shutdowns, low pay, and reliance on dicey pension promises. . .”

Well, “ask not what your country can do for you,” okay?

A little help in Washington

A Russian natural gas company enlisted the help of a District-based lobbying firm in dealing with the U.S. government days before the Obama administration hit it with those pesky sanctions.

In a lobbying disclosure filing dated July 10, Qorvis MSL LLC reported it had a new client: OAO Novatek, a major gas producer in Russia. On July 17, that company was added to the administration’s sanctions list. The National Journal reported the new business relationship Wednesday.

The disclosure form specifies that the firm will lobby on the sanctions as well as the Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014, a wide-ranging, Republican-sponsored Senate bill that directs harsher sanctions and more U.S. intervention in eastern Ukraine.

When Novatek was added to the sanctions list, the company issued a statement that it “is a privately listed company not conducting any business activities in Ukraine, nor does it have any impact on the political and economic processes taking place on its territory. . . . Including the Company into the List is not justified.”

The lobbying form lists Loretta Prencipe and Ayal Frank as the assigned lobbyists. According to their bios on Qorvis’s Web site, Prencipe had worked for the Energy Department in communications and Frank worked on the Hill for Rep. James Maloney (D-Conn.), helping with Armed Services Committee issues.

The Center for Public Integrity notes that a “major shareholder” of the Novatek gas company is buddies with none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The shareholder is Gennady Timchenko , whose long association with Putin goes back to their days as sparring partners in St. Petersburg’s Yawara-Neva judo club, according to Reuters. The State Department has termed Timchenko a member of Putin’s “inner circle.” According to Forbes magazine, Timchenko is worth $14.5 billion.

Qorvis’s other clients include Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq.

The spending just yo-yo’ed

In early 2011, the Justice Department directed agencies to scale back spending to only “mission-essential programs, projects and activities.”

Looks like that was an excellent idea.

The U.S. Marshals Service’s national and district offices spent $2million over four years on “swag” that included pillows, teddy bears, silk scarves and holiday ornaments, according to a new MuckRock report.

An inspector general report last year detailed purchases of promotional items by the Investigative Operations Division (IOD) of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). The watchdog found that the unit had spent nearly $800,000 from fiscal 2005 through 2010 on items with the Marshals Service insignia. The swag was used to boost morale, reward good work, promote the agency’s brand and recruit new employees. Items also were given as gifts.

But the IG deemed excessive a $149 lamb-wool blanket and $40.55 silk scarves, to name a few. The latter, according to the report, were often “a gesture of goodwill” gift to foreign counterparts. (Because nothing says “welcome to America” like a Marshals Service decorative neck-wrap.)

MuckRock, an open-government group, was not satisfied with how much detail the IG provided, so it requested, under the Freedom of Information Act, all the marshals’ swag purchases. The agency provided 173 pages of records covering spending on promotional items from fiscal 2009 through 2012 by “the IOD, other departments in the USMS’ national office, and 90 out of 94 district offices across the U.S. and its territories,” MuckRock reported Tuesday.

Most egregious to MuckRock? Perhaps the thousands spent on kids’ toys like yo-yos and stuffed animals.

When the initial IG report came out nine months ago, the Marshals Service said it had dramatically reduced spending on promotional items.

A Marshals Service spokeswoman reiterated to the Loop in an e-mail that the agency has “taken aggressive steps to restrict non-essential spending and strengthen internal controls over promotional spending.” Since an agency-wide moratorium was put in place in June 2011, the IOD had “spent less than $600 on promotional and ceremonial items in fiscal 2011, less than $221 in fiscal 2012,” and zilch in fiscal 2013.

— With Colby Itkowitz

Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz