Intern Affairs

A recent report from a Washington nonprofit group urged federal agencies to use internship programs more effectively to identify and hire full-time employees. Agencies ended up hiring only 6.6 percent of 2007 participants in the two largest paid federal internship programs, or 3,939 of 59,510, as full-time permanent employees, the Partnership for Public Service found. A 2008 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that private sector companies ultimately bring on about half their interns.

Pirate Patrol

Navy sharpshooters took center stage in rescuing Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates in early April. But the Navy is not alone in securing safe passage for commercial ships; the government is casting a multi-agency net to thwart modern-day pirates.

The Coast Guard, for example, is updating a 2008 security directive for ships passing through pirate-prone waters. The agency also is assisting the Navy, representing the United States on the International Maritime Organization and ensuring that vessels have viable security plans. Meanwhile, the State Department is stepping up diplomatic efforts, and coordinating with other countries to track and freeze pirates' assets and prosecute them. And the Justice Department is making an example of Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse-the surviving pirate in the Maersk incident-by prosecuting him in U.S. court for his alleged role in the attack. The intelligence agencies and Transportation Department have been involved in steering group meetings as well. The hope is these joint efforts will be enough to put piracy back on the history shelves.

-Amelia Gruber

Follow The Money might be the government's official stimulus- tracking Web site, but it is not the only game in town. These sites offer an alternative look at the massive spending spree: This free service by Seattle-based market research firm Onvia gives you a window on stimulus activity in your backyard, almost literally. Drop-down menus let you narrow your search to the county level. U.S. Budget Watch's interactive chart offers a more comprehensive look at the government's involvement in stabilizing the economy by including spending under the stimulus package and the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program. Data can be sorted by policy area, economic target, action type and organization holding the purse strings. A compendium of other Recovery Act sites, resources and news articles produced by New York-based independent investigative news organization ProPublica and WNYC's "The Takeaway" morning news program. & These sites could be valuable to federal managers interested in the state and local perspective on stimulus spending.

Center of The Storm

June 1 marks the start of the annual hurricane season, but for the past year scientists at the National Weather Service have been working on and revising the forecast. Climate change has greatly influenced such predictions, which affect everything from public policy to financial markets. At the center of the storm is Wayne Higgins, director of the climate prediction center at NWS. A self-proclaimed "weather weenie," the Illinois native has worked for the agency since 1994, moving up through the ranks to his current position.

Q: How did you become interested in meteorology?

A: As a kid, I relished the seasons [and] I knew I wanted to move to Washington and work for the National Weather Service. I drove my parents nuts. One of the pacts I made with my wife before I got married was that I didn't want to live south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Of course, we moved to Columbia, Md. Q: What are some challenges the agency is facing right now?

A: NWS is seeing more rapid growth and a wider variety of expectations from emergency managers and other public safety, health, environmental, energy, commercial, water resource, and academic partners and customers than ever before. Leveraging its infrastructure and expertise, and new knowledge of the social sciences, [the agency] will take advantage of new communications technologies to deliver these new services.

-Kellie Lunney

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