- By Eric Katz
- May 9, 2013
Still looking for that perfect Mother’s Day present? You could always go with Air Force One.
That’s right, the General Services Administration is offering up a DC-9 aircraft that used to serve as the president’s official plane.
“Presidential history for sale!” GSA tweeted from its official account Thursday. “Former Air Force One/Two DC-9 up for auction.”
The plane is currently located at Patrick Air Force Base on the east coast of Florida. While the Presidential Seal seems to have been removed, it retains its distinctive blue and white paint job with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” written on the side.
Not sure if this is the right Air Force One for you? Go check it out; GSA is allowing on-site inspections by appointment.
You better do it soon, however; the auction starts May 15 with an opening bid of $50,000.
- By Eric Katz
- May 7, 2013
While the prospect of a hot war may preoccupy some State Department officials in Washington this summer, the certainty of a hot office is bound to be on the mind of every employee at the agency.
The department recently announced it will not furlough any employees this year. To reach the cuts required by sequestration, budgeters will rely on standard practices like a partial hiring freeze and a reduction in travel and conference spending.
State also threw in a new strategy, however: raising the temperature in department buildings to save money on energy bills.
“DOS target office temperature has been 72 degrees Fahrenheit in past summers and our plan is to raise that comfort set point to 75°F to 77°F this summer,” a department spokeswoman told Government Executive. “Historically, our monthly electricity bill increases by 30 to 40 percent from winter to summer and the new set point adjustment will allow State to avoid/recoup some of the traditional increases. The amount of savings will depend on the average temperatures in D.C. this summer.”
With the way D.C. summers have been trending lately, some State employees may have preferred furloughs; at least at home they’d ...
- By Tom Shoop
- May 3, 2013
How does a rock band's famed contract rider requiring that its members be served M&Ms with all of the brown ones removed explain seemingly inexplicable bureaucratic decisions?
Ezra Klein provides the answer in the Washington Post's Wonkblog. "Call it the Van Halen Principle," he writes. "Tales of someone doing something unbelievably stupid or selfish or irrational are often just stories you don’t yet understand." In the case of Van Halen, the real story is that the rockers included the brown M&M language so they could tell as soon as they arrived at an arena whether concert promoters had actually read the other far more important fine print in their contract. In the case of the bureaucracy, it means that while it's easy for the president to mock the fact that two separate agencies are responsible for regulating salmon, there may be a perfectly logical explanation.
As Klein writes:
It would be nice if the government’s mistakes were typically a product of stupidity, venality or bureaucracy. Then we would need only to remove the idiots, fire the villains and cut the red tape. More often, the outrageous stories we hear are cases of decent ...
- By Charles S. Clark
- April 26, 2013
Highlights of Thursday’s Presidential Rank Awards banquet at the State Department included recognition of an apparently unprecedented third distinguished executive award bestowed on John H. Thompson of the Veterans Affairs Department, as well as a fabulous performance of doo-wop classics by a quintet of Naval Academy Midshipmen called The Skivs.
But perhaps most memorable moment was the rare telling of a boyhood near-misadventure by keynote speaker Gen. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence. His broader speech honored the senior executives’ achievements and dedication to the public good, advising them to think beyond their own organizations and to “mentor, not just manage” the next generation.
But the pep talk came after Clapper revealed that as a young “Army brat” in the years after World War II, he lived with his parents for a time in Alexandria, Egypt. One night, while dining at the famous Shepherd’s Hotel, none other than Egypt’s King Farouk (who reigned from 1936 to 1952) approached the Clappers. “My mother was a good-looking blond,” Clapper recalled, and soon the monarch was “hitting on her.” Papa Clapper “took exception to that and took a swing at the king,” the DNI said. This, he acknowledged dryly ...
- By Kellie Lunney
- April 23, 2013
“People don’t even know you exist.”
No, that’s not some high school mean girl in Anytown, U.S.A. talking. That’s First Lady Michelle Obama speaking to Interior Department employees on Tuesday.
The line elicited laughs from federal workers in the audience, and to be fair, was couched between high praise for the department’s 70,000 employees across the country. It was Mrs. Obama’s second visit to Interior (the first was four years ago at the beginning of the president’s first term). The pep rally was especially well-timed; furloughs for the U.S. Park Police started on Sunday. Sequestration is threatening Interior employees’ paychecks, not to mention the public’s summer vacation plans.
Here’s the excerpt with the line from the White House transcript of the First Lady’s remarks:
But I also know that the work that you do isn’t easy, especially right now during these times. I know that budget cuts mean that you all are juggling even more responsibilities with fewer resources. And I know that many of you are stretched thinner than ever before. So that’s one of the reasons why it’s just as important for ...