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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.
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Umm, Congressman, Those Federal Executives Testifying Before You Are Not Foreigners

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more strange on Capitol Hill comes this story of an embarrassing case of mistaken identity.

On Thursday, Nisha Biswal, assistant secretary of State for south and central Asian affairs, and Arun Kumar, assistant secretary of Commerce for global markets, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. The subject was U.S.-India relations.

It was an uneventful hearing until, as John Hudson of Foreign Policy’s “The Cable,” reports, Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla., began his questioning of the witnesses. At that point, it quickly became clear he thought Biswal and Kumar were representing the Indian government, not that of the United States.

"I'm familiar with your country; I love your country," Clawson said, adding, "anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I'm willing and enthusiastic about doing so." He went on to make a plea for economic cooperation: "Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I'd like our capital to be welcome there. I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?"

After ...

Feds Go Off Message With Kardashian, Gaza Tweets

It looks like it's time for a little social media remedial training at the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. 

Thanks apparently to some sloppy Twitter account management, we know at least one person in EPA's Office of Water likes to play Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, the popular game app.

According to the Washington Post, a young fellow at the agency inadvertently triggered an auto-tweet when she forgot to log out of her government Twitter account before playing the game, presumably on a device she uses for work and play (BYOD strategists take note):

 

It was an amusing mistake (EPA sent out a tweet apologizing, thanking @KimKardashian for inadvertently bringing attention to clean water issues), but they don't always work out so well.

Over the weekend, the State Department's top communications strategist, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, sent out this rather undiplomatic tweet:

Presumably he meant to use the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag. He later deleted the tweet and posted a new message noting his mistake (writing "My bad" in way of apology), but a lot of people weren't convinced that the pro-Gaza reference was really a mistake, especially given the sometimes ...

Tab for IRS Probe Is Estimated at $18 Million So Far

Without fanfare, Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen at a House hearing this month let it drop that the estimated cost of IRS compliance with the document demands of multiple congressional committees has reached a new high: $18 million. 

That figure—up from $7.9 million in February 2013—includes $10 million for 250 employees who, as of June 15, had logged 120,000 hours screening documents and emails from 83 IRS staff members, according to Koskinen’s mid-June letter to committee leaders in both chambers. An additional $6 million to $8 million has been spent on adjustments to information technology equipment and software. 

The $18 million was cited on Monday in a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who objected to a move by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to summon Koskinen to another hearing on IRS “stonewalling,” set for Wednesday. “Our committee has now held 10 hearings on this issue,” Cummings said. “It is time to stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and start focusing on reforms to help our government work more effectively and efficiently for the American people.”  

Costs notwithstanding, Issa and other Republicans show no signs of easing ...

When Nixon Nailed the SecDef

Now we know how President Richard Nixon really viewed the role of secretary of Defense, thanks to riveting excerpts of Oval Office conversations (those tapes again!) in the August issue of Vanity Fair.

In April 1972, as the U.S. was stepping up the air campaign against the North Vietnamese communists, Nixon was growing increasingly frustrated with what he perceived as the military's slow response to the requirements of the day, both in Indochina and Washington. When a briefing he ordered for 7 a.m. on April 3 wasn't delivered until 8:30 a.m., the earliest Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird himself could get to the White House (presumably Laird was busy running the war), Nixon wasn't having it.

Later that day, Nixon shared his frustrations with Thomas Moorer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Nixon: I'm not going to have that kind of crap anymore. From now on, that man is to have his ass over here in this office at seven o-clock every morning. Is that clear? 

Moorer: Yes, sir. He'll be here. 

Nixon went on to criticize the air campaign, questioning the number of sorties the Air Force was ...

Lawsuit Alleges DEA Will Trade Crack For Help on Investigations

The Drug Enforcement Administration has seen its share of scandals, but a lawsuit filed this week may be one of the more shocking.

According to a report by the Associated Press, a lawsuit alleges that DEA agents paid an addict in crack cocaine for his assistance with an undercover operation in 2011. According to court papers filed this week, Aaron Romero said he was approached by agents to help with the New Mexico-based "Operation Smack City." In exchange for his working with the agents, Romero said he received portions of the drugs confiscated by five DEA agents working on the case.

A recovering addict at the time of the investigation, Romero's lawsuit says his addiction was reignited from his use aided by the five agents who supplied him with the drugs. The lawsuit is seeking $8.5 million in damages for emotional and physical harm. Romero's lawyer says he is now drug free.

"The United States government and the defendants affirmatively and intentionally established a pattern of distribution of crack cocaine to (Romero) in order to utilize his addiction to crack cocaine to further the investigation and to 'stack drug related charges' against him," the suit reads.

The ...