Archive for January, 2009


Senator Stevens Trial Stories from the Anchorage Daily News

 

 

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Whistle-blower adds twist to Stevens case

WHISTLE-BLOWER: Federal employee accuses government of misconduct.

A whistle-blower inside the Justice Department has accused members of the team investigating public corruption in Alaska of official misconduct, according to the judge who presided over Sen. Ted Stevens’ trial in Washington, D.C.

 

The whistle-blower’s complaint, dated Dec. 2, is now the subject of an internal investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, according to a memorandum and order signed Friday by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia.

Sullivan revealed the existence of the complaint, and three secret hearings about it last week, in his 29-page order.

Sullivan said little about the nature of the alleged misconduct. Among the allegations was that a government employee accepted “multiple things of value” from sources cooperating in the investigation, Sullivan said.

The judge also reported that the whistle-blower accused at least two federal employees of intentionally violating government policies in the corruption investigation in Alaska and in connection with material that was supposed to be provided to Stevens for his defense, Sullivan said.

Stevens was found guilty Oct. 27 of seven felony counts of failing to report gifts and services on his annual Senate disclosures.

Sullivan said it was premature to say whether the allegations, if true, could have affected the outcome of the trial. But Sullivan said the allegations were clearly relevant to the Stevens case.

Stevens is asking for a new trial, arguing that his case was tainted by government misconduct, among other issues. The motion will be heard by Sullivan in February.

The whistle-blower is a federal employee “with extensive knowledge of the investigation and trial in this case,” Sullivan said. The whistle-blower and the people named in the complaint “are not strangers to these proceedings, but rather were significantly involved in the investigation and prosecution of the defendant.”

His order advised lawyers representing the Justice Department, Stevens and the whistle-blower that he intended to make public a redacted version of the complaint Monday at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time — noon in Alaska.

The public version of the document will not reveal the names of the complainant or the subjects of the internal investigation, Sullivan said, but will otherwise disclose the allegations.

Prosecutors had sought to keep the complaint secret since informing the judge of its existence Dec. 11. Sullivan, in his order Friday, soundly rejected that effort, citing the constitutional rights of Stevens to a fair trial and the public to observe the administration of justice. But he acknowledged that the whistle-blower and the officials cited in the complaint had privacy rights, at least in the current stages of the internal investigation.

SECOND INVESTIGATION

Stevens’ lawyers, who complained throughout the month-long trial of prosecutorial misconduct, had sought full public disclosure of the document, Sullivan said. The whistle-blower, concerned about the consequences of being exposed, joined with the government in seeking to keep it secret, he said.

The complaint is the second time the Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates misconduct by Justice Department attorneys and law enforcement personnel, has gotten involved in the Stevens case.

In mid-trial, lead prosecutor Brenda Morris told Sullivan that she and the other members of her team had self-reported that they had failed to turn over material to the defense as required by law.

The material involved FBI agent notes of interviews with the government’s chief witness, Bill Allen, the former chief executive of Veco Corp.

At the time, Sullivan said he thought the government was intentionally hiding information and ordered prosecutors to sweep through their files and give everything connected to Stevens to the defense.

With the jury gone from the courtroom Oct. 2, Morris acknowledged the government committed “a gross error” in withholding the material, but denied any intentional misbehavior.

ARTWORK AND A JOB

From the onset, the government sought to keep the latest problem secret, Sullivan said. When it alerted the court to the complaint Dec. 11, it did so in a sealed memorandum, he said.

Prosecutors asserted the complaint bore “no relationship whatsoever” to the Stevens case.

“The court flatly rejects the government’s position,” Sullivan wrote. The complaint alleged a person involved in the investigation accepted “multiple things of value,” including “artwork and employment for a relative” from cooperating sources, the judge noted with some irony.

“Surely the court does not need to remind the government that the defendant in this case was convicted for failing to disclose that he had accepted multiple things of value and, in fact, the trial included testimony about his receipt of artwork and employment for a relative,” Sullivan wrote.

During one of the secret hearings last week, Sullivan said, he was unable to get any kind of answer from a government lawyer to repeated questions about whether the complaint contained favorable information that needed to be disclosed to Stevens. The lawyer’s refusal to answer “blinks at reality,” Sullivan wrote.

In his order, Sullivan cited a long history of court decisions supporting the public’s right to know about government conduct.

“To seal the complaint would be to deprive the public of information that directly addresses courtroom conduct, documents that were introduced at trial, and information that was relied upon by the court for various decisions throughout the proceedings,” Sullivan said. “To say that the public’s interest in this case was and is significant would be an understatement. In fact, even post-trial, the media has an interest in the case,” he said, citing recent reports in the Anchorage Daily News and the Washington Post.

But Sullivan acknowledged the complainant also needed protection, referring to a case involving the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., where a number of whistle-blowers were subject to reprisals in the 1980s and 1990s.

At the secret hearing Friday, the lawyer representing the whistle-blower “argued that the complainant would not have filed the complaint, at least in the form it was filed, had the complainant known that it might be made public.”

But whistle-blower rights don’t trump those of Stevens or the public, Sullivan said. Hiding the identities in the document is adequate protection, he said.

Find Richard Mauer online at adn.com/contact/rmauer or call 257-4345.

Link to original:  http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/stevens/story/630036.html

 

 

More Story links:

 

Ailing Stevens Trial Witness Dies in Anchorage:  http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/stevens/story/639592.html

 

 

Stevens Witness Affirms Immunity Offer:  http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/stevens/story/632570.html

 

 

FBI whistleblower alleges Stevens trial misconduct:  http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/stevens/story/631518.html

 

Alaska Bar urges court to reject Stevens plea:  http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/stevens/story/625510.html

 

 

The Ted Stevens Investigation:  http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/stevens/

 

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More interesting last minute Bush/Cheney Deals.  -GFS

 

 

U.S. – United Arab Emirates Sign Nuclear Deal

From Elise Labott          January 16, 2009

CNN State Department Producer

 

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The United States signed an agreement Thursday on civil nuclear cooperation with the United Arab Emirates.

Calling the agreement “a powerful and timely model for the world and the region,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed the deal, along with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed.

 

“We applaud the UAE’s commission — commitment to the highest standards of safety, security and nonproliferation in its pursuit of nuclear power,” Rice said.

[Article Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that the agreement with the UAE marked the first of its type between the United States and a Middle Eastern country. In fact, similar agreements are already in place with Egypt and Morocco.]

Congress has to ratify the agreement before it can take effect, and congressional critics fear it could spark an arms race and proliferation in the region. The UAE’s ties to Iran also have caused concern.

 

Under the “1-2-3 deal,” similar to one the United States signed last year with India, Washington would share nuclear technology, expertise and fuel. In exchange, the UAE commits to abide by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

 

The small oil-rich Gulf nation promises not to enrich uranium or to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear bombs.

The deal is part of a major UAE investment in nuclear energy. It has already signed deals to build several nuclear power plants.

 

Rice hails approval of India nuclear deal

“We are a country that is very rich in its oil and gas, but we do look forward that we have a program, a nuclear, peaceful program that could sustain our future needs,” said bin Zayed. 

Rice said she hoped existing work by U.S. companies on the UAE nuclear program would be expanded under the agreement.

“We believe our technology is the best in the world, and we hope that the UAE will give that technology strong consideration,” she said.

 

 

The United States has stressed its role in global nonproliferation initiatives and has donated $10 million to establish an International Atomic Energy Agency international fuel bank.

 

The U.S. has held up the UAE’s development of nuclear energy in stark contrast to Iran, which is suspected of enriching uranium for a nuclear bomb.

 

Rep. Howard Berman, a Democrat from California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the safeguards in the agreement “encouraging” but voiced concerns that Iran could take advantage of the agreement.

“This could be a significant advance in nonproliferation policy, and a model for future nuclear cooperation agreements,” Berman said in a statement.

“However, I and many other members of Congress place a very high priority on the international effort to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and will be analyzing this and any other nuclear cooperation agreement in the context of how it implicates the attainment of that goal.”

 

Iran is the among the UAE’s largest trading partners. In the past, the port city of Dubai, one of the UAE’s seven emirates, has been used as a transit point for sensitive technology bound for Iran.

 

Dubai was also one of the major hubs for the nuclear trafficking network run by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. But U.S. officials said the UAE has taken major steps to improve export controls and prevent money laundering.

 

Still, such ties contributed to stiff opposition in Congress to the failed deal for Dubai Ports World to manage U.S. ports.

 

The U.S. already has similar agreements with Egypt and Morocco, and U.S. officials said Washington is working on similar pacts with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan.

 

 

UAE and US Sign Nuclear Deal

The Financial Times Limited 2009

By Robin Wigglesworth in Abu Dhabi

 

Published: January 18 2009 14:06 | Last updated: January 18 2009 14:06

 

 

The United Arab Emirates has signed a nuclear energy co-operation agreement with the US, putting it on the path to become the first Arab state to develop nuclear power.

Despite international concern over Iran’s controversial nuclear power programme and uranium enrichment, many Arab states – particularly in the hydrocarbon-rich Gulf – have expressed a desire to develop nuclear power for civilian purposes.

In an important statement of US approval of the UAE’s atomic power ambitions, Condoleezza Rice, the outgoing secretary of state, and Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE foreign minister, on Friday signed a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear co-operation

 

“Under the terms of this agreement, the UAE will gain access to significant capabilities and experience in the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Sheikh Abdullah said in a statement. “This will allow the UAE to develop its civilian nuclear program to the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation.”

 

Ms Rice said the key to the deal is the UAE’s willingness to import, rather than produce, fuel that would be used in its proposed reactors. The UAE would also return all spent nuclear fuel rather than attain the technical capability to reprocess it.

“That really does minimise – matter of fact, almost eliminates – the proliferation risks,” Ms Rice said, according to Associated Press.

 

The deal could still run into difficulties. Barack Obama, the incoming president, will have to decide whether to ratify the deal, and some members of the US House of Representatives oppose the deal over concern it would lead to a nuclear energy race in the region.

 

“In the Middle East, a nuclear energy race could be as perilous as a nuclear arms race,” Ed Markey, a Democrat congressman, said on Thursday. ”I hope that President-elect Obama will seize the opportunity to put the brakes on the Bush administration’s policy of placing nuclear commerce above common sense.”

 

Despite an abundance of oil and gas in the region, many Gulf states are plagued by power shortages after the break-neck speed of economic growth in recent years. Electricity demand has soared in the UAE in particular due to energy-intensive water desalination and air-conditioning needed for much of the year.

 

Several emirates of the seven that make up the UAE suffer from periodic black-outs, as gas imported from neighbouring Qatar is mostly used for power generation in Abu Dhabi, the capital, and the commercial hub of Dubai.

 

The Opec member estimates that peak demand for electricity will double to 40,000 megawatts by 2020, but current capacity is only roughly half of this. The country also hopes that nuclear power will lessen its “environmental footprint”, among the worst in the world.

 

In 2007 six Arab Gulf states, including the UAE, asked the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, to study the feasibility of a joint nuclear programme.

 

The six states have even called on Iran to co-operate in a joint development plan to defuse tensions over the Islamic republic’s continuing nuclear programme, which many fear could lead to Tehran developing nuclear weapons.

 

The US and the UAE first signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear power cooperation in April 2008, which led to Friday’s so-called “123 Agreement”, known after Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, which establishes a legal framework for commerce in civilian nuclear energy technology and material.

The UAE signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with France last year, and several French firms have submitted proposals to the authorities in Abu Dhabi to develop two reactors. The UAE’s Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation last year awarded US engineering and construction company CH2M Hill a contract to manage its atomic investment programme.

 

“The agreement will also open opportunities for US firms to be active participants in the UAE nuclear energy program,” Sheikh Abdullah added in the statement.

I wonder if he will stand against the consolidation of the media control?  Maybe reverse the damage?  -GFS

 

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Obama’s Tech Adviser To Be Tapped for FCC

By Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 13, 2009; D01

President-elect Barack Obama will name Julius Genachowski, a high-tech policy veteran and venture capitalist, to head the Federal Communications Commission, according to sources close to the transition team and key lawmakers.

A spokesperson yesterday for the transition team declined to confirm Genachowski’s nomination. But one source close to the transition said an announcement will probably be officially made in the next few days. Two sources close to the staff of key members of the House of Representatives said Obama’s transition team called Democratic lawmakers and their aides yesterday to tell them of the nomination.

Genachowski, 46, served as chief counsel for Reed Hundt, then FCC chairman, during the Clinton administration. He also has business experience as an executive at the Internet firm IAC/InterActive and currently as a venture capitalist at Rock Creek Ventures in the District.

Obama’s pick for the nation’s head telecommunications regulator has served as the president-elect’s top technology adviser and was a classmate of Obama’s at Harvard Law School. Genachowski is credited for spearheading Obama’s online campaign strategy, which used social networking and other tools to spread the candidate’s campaign message and raise record contributions.

Sources close to the transition team said last month that Obama was prepared to give Genachowski either the job of FCC chairman or chief technology officer, a new position that has not yet been clearly defined. When it became clear to Genachowski that the chief technology officer job would not include policy-making authorities, sources said yesterday, he agreed to take the FCC position. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been officially announced.

“If Julius is indeed the selection for FCC chair, he has the right mix of experience in government and business to give him a unique perspective on the job,” said Ben Scott, policy director for the public interest group Free Press. “He has been very influential in the Obama campaign in linking their innovative uses of technology in the electoral politics and organizing with a very forward-looking tech-policy agenda.”

Genachowski would take over the FCC at time when decisions made at the agency have greatly expanded its original role as a regulator of broadcast licenses. Today, the FCC oversees areas including Internet policy, the transition from analog to digital television scheduled for next month, and radio and TV indecency complaints. Multibillion-dollar mergers and wireless policies have brought Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Google‘s founders and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to lobby the FCC for their business interests.

Obama has made the deployment of high-speed Internet networks as a central part of his plan to create jobs and better compete with global economies offering much faster broadband Internet speeds, often at lower prices.

 

This is also going on at the state level.  I am told in Washington State, the Governor has talked of cutting state workers and teacher salaries in order to deal with the huge deficits.  I expect it will hit most everyone, government or not, who isn’t working in certain industries, that have been making out like bandits, socking away investments and savings, the past decade.  -GFS

 

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Federal Workers Delaying Retirement Because of Economic Crisis

By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 12, 2009; 6:21 PM

After 31 years of federal service, Cynthia Bascetta was set to retire.

In preparation for leaving her job with the Government Accountability Office, she and her family moved last year from Arlington to Fredericksburg, Va., drawn by the lower cost of living and no longer in need of a short commute to work. She informed her managing director of her intent to leave federal service in January.

Well, January has arrived, and Bascetta is still at her desk. After the bottom dropped out of the economy last fall, Bascetta, director of Health Care at GAO, reconsidered her plans to leave a job she still enjoyed. “It just didn’t seem like a very good time to stop working,” she said.

Now Bascetta is taking the commuter train from Fredericksburg to get to her job at the GAO, in downtown Washington.

Bascetta, 56, is not alone. Some of her older colleagues at the GAO have also changed their plans because of the economic crisis and tumbling retirement accounts, she said. “At least two people here who were thinking of retiring can’t, because they’ve lost too much of their children’s college funding,” Bascetta said.

Across the federal government in the last several months, fewer employees have been retiring than previously projected. “We are seeing a decline in the rate of retirement,” said Nancy Kichak, associate director for Strategic Human Resources Policy for the Office of Personnel Management. “We think it’s driven by the economy.”

Retirements of federal workers in the third quarter of fiscal 2008 numbered 12,013, down about six percent from the same quarter a year earlier, according to OPM figures.

In recent years, federal officials have been bracing for a wave of retirements brought on by the aging of the federal workforce — the “retirement tsunami,” as Lynn A. Jennings, executive vice president for the Council for Excellence in Government, puts it.

OPM has projected that close to one-fifth of the federal government’s full-time permanent workforce will retire over the next five years, and that 36 percent of the Senior Executive Service will retire by 2012.

“Our projections are going to be changing,” said Kichak. Revised figures are expected by later this month or early February.

Despite the slowdown in retirements, Kichak said the increasing average age of the federal workforce — 46.2, up from 41.6 two decades ago — means that a substantial portion of the government workforce will be retiring later this decade. “They may delay it a little, but people are just plain not not going to retire,” said Kichak.

OPM has been expecting a peak in retirements between 2008 and 2010, Kichak said, and that has not changed. “We still think we will peak between 2008 and 2010, but the peak will be lower,” she said.

Jennings said hopes of better times for the federal workforce under the Obama administration may be contributing to a decision by some to put off retirement. “Given the economic realities and the excitement over the Obama administration, we may not see the tsunami,” said Jennings.

“The economic turmoil certainly changes that equation, as does the change in administration,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the non-profit Partnership for Public Service.

Stier added that the aging of the federal cohort points inexorably to the departure of a large number of retiring federal workers. “At some point, we’re going to be seeing people leaving. I don’t think there’s any question we’re seeing a substantial exodus of talent.”

They include people like Mary Levy, who retired Jan. 2 as division director for the General Services Administration’s Consumer Information and Education office after 35 years of government service. Leaving the federal government after so many years was a hard decision. “It’s become part of who I am,” Levy, 60, said of her job. “I’m a wife and a daughter and an aunt, and I’m a federal employee.”

The economic downturn did give her pause. “It certainly made me stop and think,” said Levy. “Fortunately, I’m covered under the old civil service system. If I were under the new system, it would probably be a deterrent.”

Retirees covered by the old system receive a defined benefit based on their years of service. Workers covered by Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which was introduced in 1987, receive some of their benefits from a thrift savings plan similar to a 401 k plan, and are therefore more vulnerable to the decline in the stock market.

“They may be less inclined to retire these days,” said Jennings.

“The economic downturn was something that gave me second thoughts,” said Susan Jacobs, who retired Dec. 31 from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, and is covered by FERS. “I wanted to be sure that I was sure.”

How much of an impact the economic crisis will have on federal retirements, and for how long, is unknown. “We’re just like everybody else,” said Kichak. “We don’t know when the economy is going to get better.”

Despite the slowdown in retirements, federal agencies need to continue efforts to combat a feared “brain drain” as experienced employees leave the service, Kichak said. “Those things are things we still need to be working on,” she said.

Don Drach, 59, who retired January 2 as director of international relations for the GAO after 28 years in government service, helped develop a “knowledge transfer program” to retain institutional knowledge and relationships.

“People feel an obligation not just to leave, but to leave it in good shape,” he said.

Though she has delayed retirement, Bascetta has continued to prepare her staff for her departure. “The last six months, I’ve been much more conscious of not just giving comments, but trying to explain my thought process,” she said.

Retirement remains a viable option for her because she is covered by the civil service system. “If I were in the new system, I could not retire,” she said. Bascetta now thinks she will likely retire next January, a year later than intended.

For Bascetta, there is consolation over the fact that she now faces a two-hour door-to-door commute from Fredericksburg via Virginia Railway Express versus her old 20-minute drive from Arlington. “It turns out I love the train,” she said.

Gfs

 

All over the world, people are celebrating

the leave-taking of one of the most appalling

human beings ever to occupy the White House.

 

That being said we might just be exchanging

one puppet for another, but that shouldn’t

stop a good party.

 

To help the spirit along, our friends at

Jazz on the Tube have picked a theme

song for tonight’s party.

 

If you like their taste, consider subscribing.

 

America has produced more than just epically

corrupt politicians. We’ve produced some

pretty good music too.

 

Bushie, Dick, Condi, and the whole neo-con

crew…this one’s for you.

 

Enjoy:

 

http://www.jazzonthetube.com/page/53.html

 

 

– Brasscheck

 

P.S. Please share Brasscheck TV e-mails and

videos with friends and colleagues.

 

That’s how we grow. Thanks.

 

==============================

 

 

 

Brasscheck TV

2380 California St.

San Francisco, CA 94115

Gfs

 

You’ve probably seen the ads for

commemorative co’ns celebrating

Obama’s election.

 

But what about soon to be former

president George W. Bush?

 

Celebrate the president who gave

so much (irony alert)

 

If you need a laugh, this will provide

it.

 

Details:

 

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/253.html

 

 

– Brasscheck

 

P.S. Please share Brasscheck TV e-mails and

videos with friends and colleagues.

 

That’s how we grow. Thanks.

 

==============================

 

 

 

Brasscheck TV

2380 California St.

San Francisco, CA 94115

 

 

Dear G.Florence,

 

We wanted to tell you about a new feature on Change.gov which lets you bring your ideas directly to the President.

 

It’s called the Citizen’s Briefing Book, and it’s an online forum where you can share your ideas, and rate or offer comments on the ideas of others.

 

The best-rated ones will rise to the top, and after the Inauguration, we’ll print them out and gather them into a binder like the ones the President receives every day from experts and advisors. If you participate, your idea could be included in the Citizen’s Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama.

 

Visit the Citizen’s Briefing Book now and share your ideas:

 

 

 

 

Throughout this Transition, a truly inspiring number of citizens have gotten involved. We hope that you remain involved through the Inauguration and beyond.

 

Thank you,

 

Valerie

 

Valerie Jarrett

Co-Chair

Obama-Biden Transition Project

 

 

 

Join The National Whistleblowers Center Petition Drive For Oversight And Accountability

“National Whistleblowers Center” <lmw@whistleblowers.org> 

 

 

 

Dear Active Member,

 

The National Whistleblowers Center invites you to become more involved in the fight for whistleblower rights.  We are leading a petition drive to pass a national whistleblower protection law. Whistleblowers who report waste, fraud, and abuse are essential for proper oversight and accountability. The recent financial scandals and multi-billion dollar bailout legislation highlight the urgent need to protect these courageous individuals.

 

To sign the petition please click here.

 

To send the petition to friends click here.

 

We will be petitioning on the National Mall before the Inauguration and at various events in the DC area. Please come join us and tell everyone you know to sign the petition.  Every signature helps!  To learn more about the National Whistleblowers Center please visit www.whistleblowers.org or contact Lindsey Williams at lmw@whistleblowers.org.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

Please visit View From the Meadow, an interesting blog site with some interesting features.  You may find a list of alleged planned Bush last minute “changes” and regulation “adjustments.”  It will give you something more to think about.  Here is an excerpt from this blog site below….

-GFS

Link: http://viewfromthemeadow.com/

 

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Bush’s Midnight Regulations
Policies he’s attempting to pass in the darkness of night before leaving office

Bush and Company have spent the past eight years working to change laws and policies that affect their cronies, especially those in the petroleum, energy, pharmaceutical and military industries. Now they are making a last-minute effort to ram through some changes they haven’t succeeded in passing, with the help of a complicit Congress and a hope that the nation doesn’t notice.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Other regulations would lift controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, drinking-water standards, coal mining and eliminate obstacles to commercial ocean-fishing. There are over 90 new regulations in the plan; at least nine of them concern reducing benefits for the people. Most of these actions favor lobbyists who fear new regulations and policies from the Obama administration.

The Bushies have been rewriting regulations that displease their cronies since the afternoon of Bush’s inauguration. On that very day they blocked the completion or implementation of regulations passed by the Clinton administration. These included 254 regulations covering drug and airline safety, immigration and pollution.

Bush is also appointing several of his cronies to civil service positions. This will provide them with employment security and prevent the Obama administration from appointing more qualified people in key jobs.

Bush also intends to pardon himself and all of the criminals in his administration from prosecution for their illegal activities while in power.

CLICK HERE for a list of Bush’s planned Midnight Regulations

 

 

 

 

OPM to modify senior executive selection process

Link to Original:  http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=41808&dcn=e_gvet

 

 

The Office of Personnel Management is adjusting the process federal agencies use to select members for the Senior Executive Service, following a pilot project that won high praise from applicants.

In a Jan. 12 memorandum to agency human resources heads, acting Director Michael Hager said OPM is developing an improved version of a new selection process tried out at eight agencies from June 1, 2008, to Nov. 15, 2008.

During the test run, agencies advertised 61 vacancies by asking applicants to submit a record of accomplishments or a résumé in lieu of narratives focused around five broad executive core qualifications. Applicants had characterized the narratives as too cumbersome and some had hired experts to help write them.

Agencies advertised 34 of the SES vacancies using the accomplishment record approach, in which job-seekers were asked to submit a more streamlined application that targets selected competencies of the five core qualifications. The remaining 27 vacancies were announced using the résumé-based approach, in which applicants were asked to submit only a standard résumé. Both methods drew heavily on structured interviews of well-qualified candidates.

“These interviews to a large degree took the place of the lengthy [executive core qualifications] narrative statements typically required of candidates under the traditional SES selection process,” Hager said. “In this way, the pilot attempted to make the hiring process more inviting to applicants by shifting some of the burden from them to agency staff.”

The project also tested the use of virtual qualification review boards, OPM-administered independent panels of senior executives that assess the qualifications of Senior Executive Service candidates. Using an automated system, board members were able to review candidates without actually convening at OPM. “This method seems to hold considerable promise as a way to streamline this critical OPM function without diminishing the quality of the decisions rendered,” Hager said.

Results from the pilot project indicate that it was successful in shifting the burden from the applicant to human resources staff, he said. The pilot produced a 50 percent increase in applicants compared to the traditional method, with the résumé-based approach attracting more than twice as many non-federal applicants.

Still, HR staffers said they found the new approaches somewhat unwieldly, noting that the streamlined applications and structured interviews required extra work. But for agencies with the most hires under the pilot project, there were fewer objections as staff became more practiced in the processes. Those agencies included the Homeland Security Department.

Hager said OPM will improve the pilot methods, taking into account some of the concerns of staff and applicants, and will provide training within the next few months to agencies that want to use the new approaches. After completing the training, he said, agencies will be able to choose between the new processes and the traditional method.