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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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Trump Plans to Hire a Team of Lawyers to Secure Land for Border Wall

Anyone who still doubts that President Trump is serious about building a wall between the United States and Mexico should take a closer look at the budget proposal the administration released this morning.

In the section describing Justice Department priorities, the proposal calls for “the addition of 20 attorneys to pursue federal efforts to obtain the land and holdings necessary to secure the Southwest border and another 20 attorneys and support staff for immigration litigation assistance.”

Eminent domain—the government appropriation of private property (against the will of private property owners) for a greater public good—is something Trump has long supported. It’s an approach he leveraged in the construction business to thwart uncooperative people who stood in the way of his building projects and he defended its use during the Republican debates. While property owners are compensated for their loss, the practice is highly contentious and at odds with the views of  many conservatives and libertarians. A piece last year in the conservative National Review,Memo to The Donald: There are ways to acquire property without using government force,” illustrates the point.

The fact that the Justice Department intends to bring on 20 attorneys expressly for the purpose...

Run (or Walk) To Help Out Feds in Need

Here are three things you can do on Sunday, May 7: raise funds to help out federal employees in need, show support generally for public servants, and get some exercise.

And you can do them all simultaneously at the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund’s annual 5K Run/Walk.

FEEA is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping federal employees in need through loans, scholarships and grants. Since its founding in 1986, the organization has assisted more than 50,000 employees and family members. It is perhaps best known for its work with the children of victims of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

The May run/walk will take place in connection with Public Service Recognition Week. In Washington, the event will be held Anacostia Park. But FEAA is encouraging people around the country to form local teams and run or walk in their own communities.

By doing so, FEEA hopes to boost participation in the annual event. FEEA Executive Director Joyce Warner said the organization would like to see 1,000 registrants across the country “coming out in force to support federal employees.”

Proceeds from registration for the event go to...

House Oversight Leaders to Trump: Stop Deleting Tweets

President Trump is deleting tweets, and the primary House lawmakers with oversight of the executive branch are not happy about it.

Trump and his White House staffers may be violating the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., wrote in a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn. The lawmakers pointed to reports of officials using unofficial email accounts to conduct business, communicating with encrypted messaging applications and deleting messages that should be preserved.

When officials covered under the Presidential Records Act send an email from a personal account, they must forward it to their government account within 20 days. While White House staff may intend to use apps such as Signal or Confide to protect against cyber breaches, Chaffetz and Cummings said, the “need for data security” does not “justify circumventing requirements established by federal recordkeeping and transparency laws.” They noted Trump’s deleted tweets “could pose a violation” of records laws, adding the Obama administration instituted auto-archiving capabilities on its Twitter accounts.

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Many of Trump’s...

A Pioneering Woman in Government, By Any Analytical Measure

In the early 1960s, few women occupied high positions in government, fewer in the field of economics and fewer still who didn’t have a post-graduate degree. Dorothy Rice, who died late last month at age 94, was all three. As captured in recent Washington Post and New York Times obituaries, she played a major role in the 1965 creation of Medicare and paved the way for the 1998 tobacco industry settlement of the decades-old cancer wars.

Rice’s jobs as a numbers and policy analyst took her to the Social Security Administration, the National Center for Health Statistics, the Public Health Service and the Labor Department.

It was while at SSA that she wrote a seminal study on aging that threw light on the reality that half the population 65 or older had no health insurance and, in many cases, no money to purchase a product that is more needed by the elderly than the young.

In the 1980s, while at the University of California at San Francisco, Rice and colleagues conducted groundbreaking research documenting the cost of smoking-related illnesses. Her calculations eventually figured in the settlement agreement in which tobacco marketers agreed to pay $206 billion to states...

The Interior Secretary Went to Work on Horseback. Here’s How Other Cabinet Secretaries Should Commute

Newly confirmed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke arrived at work in novel fashion Thursday: astride a horse. Flanked by mounted U.S. Park Police officers, the cowboy-hatted Zinke rode through the streets of Washington like he was back home in Montana.

This got me thinking: Outside of Zinke, Cabinet secretaries have shown a distinct lack of imagination when it comes to how they commute. So here are some unsolicited suggestions:

  • State: In a horse-drawn carriage, with footmen
  • Treasury: By armored truck
  • Justice: In a police cruiser
  • Agriculture: Riding atop a tractor (it wouldn’t be the first time someone took to the streets of D.C. in one)
  • Commerce: Via Uber or Lyft
  • Labor: On the subway, like a regular working stiff
  • Defense: Driving a tank (while making sure to avoid the Mike Dukakis look)
  • Health and Human Services: In the back of an ambulance
  • Housing and Urban Development: By using Bikeshare
  • Transportation: Gotta use ‘em all: plane, train, and automobile
  • Energy: Via solar-powered car
  • Education: On a school bus, of course
  • Veterans Affairs: In an official Veterans Transportation Service vehicle
  • Homeland Security: In a helicopter (preferably black)