- By Tom Shoop
- June 14, 2013
In April, I had the privilege of attending the Senior Executives Association’s annual Presidential Distinguished Rank Award banquet, honoring the recipients of the highest awards to civil servants for on-the-job performance.
I’ve attended the annual event several times, and as usual it was a classy, dignified affair, held at the State Department’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms, featuring an address by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. And lest you think it was an example of questionable federal spending, the event was, in fact, funded by SEA’s Professional Development League, with corporate support.
But it may be the last time SEA has any executives to celebrate.
That’s because the Obama administration has decided that in the era of sequestration, awarding bonuses of 20 percent to 35 percent of salary to the highest performing 1 percent of the government’s senior executive corps is unseemly. (Another 1 percent of senior level scientific and technical executives can receive the rank of Distinguished Senior Professional.) This week, the administration announced it was canceling the Presidential Rank Awards (which also honor a group of officials designated as Meritorious Executives) for 2013. The idea, the White House said, was to preserve all ...
- By Charles S. Clark
- June 13, 2013
Spotted looking on as a private citizen at a Wednesday Senate confirmation hearing was former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who stepped down in February.
Leibowitz was at the Senate Dirksen building to watch his former colleague, Howard Shelanski, get grilled about his agenda should he become President Obama’s regulatory chief. Leibowitz agreed to speak to Government Executive about the ongoing debate over whether independent regulatory agencies should be subjected to the same cost-benefit reviews as other agencies currently are.
“The FTC is bipartisan and consensus-driven,” he said, “and it’s to the credit of both the Bush and Obama administrations that they both left us alone.”
Asked about the controversial proposal of Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., to move the FTC out of its historic headquarters at Pennsylvania and Constitutional avenues in Washington to enlarge space for the National Gallery of Art, Leibowitz said, “My understanding is that there wasn’t much support for his proposal.”
No decision yet, the lawyer and veteran congressional adviser added cheerfully, on what new job awaits him.
- By Charles S. Clark
- June 10, 2013
No one planned it that way, but the twin blockbuster stories exposing national security agencies’ collection of domestic telephone logs and foreigners’ Web traffic made for some surreal juxtapositions on Friday at the annual banquet of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
With the current and past directors of national intelligence at the Omni Shoreham to honor former CIA and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden, the result in speeches and interviews with intel professionals was a gumbo of outrage, worry and humor.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the black-tie crowd of more than 700 he would “address the elephant in the room” and proceeded, to applause, to denounce “the unauthorized leaks as reprehensible and egregious.” Clapper characterized the program as completely legal, debated and reauthorized by Congress under strict oversight and by court order “to make our nation safe and secure.”
He then cracked a few jokes. “Some of you expressed surprise that I showed up—so many emails to read!” Clapper said. Greeting fellow banqueter John Pistole, the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration who recently reversed a planned policy to permit air travelers to carry certain knives on planes, Clapper said, “John, can I borrow ...
- By Charles S. Clark
- June 7, 2013
The towering Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who as of Friday is the longest-serving lawmaker in U.S. history (57 years) has for decades struck terror in the hearts of agency managers with his famed “Dingell letters.”
In an appearance at Atlantic Media Friday morning for “Atlantic Live,” the longtime chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee explained the secret to composing an effective letter as part of the congressional oversight process. “It takes an honest sense of social justice and outrage, along with the great English words who, how, why, and when, rather than starting a nasty argument,” Dingell told moderator Steve Clemons. “You can stop a lot more rapscallions in government with questions than by going out and breaking heads.”
Dingell, who has a long record of legislating for environmental protections while also backing a strong automobile industry, shared a few other secrets and observations:
- The current Congress is “the most snarled-up Congress I’ve ever served in, but it’s still a privilege.”
- The gridlock is the fault both of Congress and “the people who put up with it by sending us here not to compromise but to fight.”
- The Tea Party is “smart as all get-out ...
- By Tom Shoop
- June 6, 2013
In the May/June issue of Government Executive, Kellie Lunney explores how the tight budgets that are in place across government actually are driving innovation at certain agencies. Sequestration, personnel reductions and pay freezes have led them to seek creative solutions to meeting long-term goals. How are they doing it?
That's what we're going to explore at a Government Executive Town Hall event next Tuesday, June 11, at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. Dustin Brown, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy associate director for performance and personnel management, will take questions from an audience of federal managers and executives on such subjects as:
- Aligning budget goals and performance metrics
- Leveraging technology and other tools to build and motivate a more efficient workforce
- Tracking program performance against larger agency goals