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Archive for August 23rd, 2009

DorobekInsider: What’s the deal with GSA administrator nominee Johnson? The Kansas City Star finds out

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One of the key Obama administration posts still vacant is the role of GSA administrator. Of course, Martha Johnson was nominated in April, and she made it through the Senate committee in June, but her nomination has been… on hold… literally.

There have been several stories flying around — one was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had actually pulled her name off the nomination list because, as the story goes, GSA had told agencies that the government could not travel to Las Vegas in Reid’s home state. In fact, the WSJ had this report on July 22:

Government Meeting? Stay Away From Fun City

What do Reno, Orlando and Las Vegas have in common? To some pockets of the federal government, they just seem like too much fun.

Instead, employees at some big agencies, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are being encouraged to host meetings in more buttoned-down places such as St. Louis, Milwaukee or Denver….

Earlier this month, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the chamber’s majority leader, expressed concern to the White House about a prohibition on government travel to resort destinations. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wrote back saying that government travel “is not focused on specific destinations,” but on cost and efficiency.

The General Services Administration, which sets the amount government employees can spend per day at each destination, has no ban on locations.

But some agencies appear to be instituting their own guidelines that dictate where events should be held.

According to an Agriculture Department employee familiar with the guidelines, the agency issued internal travel guidelines in the spring that encourage employees to hold meetings in cities that display three key attributes: a travel hub; low in cost; and “a non-resort location.” The employee said cities on the list with those three attributes included Chicago; Denver; Portland, Ore.; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee; Phoenix and Fort Collins, Colo.

Resort locations aren’t banned, “but you have to provide robust justification” to supervisors for approval to hold an event there, the employee said.

Read the full story here.

Apparently there never was a ban on travel to the hurting Las Vegas — although there is a lot of mis-information out there about travel.

But it appears that the hold on Johnson’s nomination is by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), as reported Friday by the Kansas City Star:

Bond blocks GSA nominee in action tied to downtown KC federal building

By KEVIN COLLISON
The Kansas City Star

Posted on Fri, Aug. 21, 2009

Sen. Kit Bond is blocking approval of the president’s choice to lead the General Services Administration, adding pressure on Washington to approve a proposed downtown federal office building.

Bond, who has been a leader in the effort to build the estimated $175 million project since it was first proposed in 2006, has placed a hold on the appointment of Martha Johnson.

Johnson, a former GSA chief of staff, was recommended for the post by President Barack Obama in April and was endorsed by the Senate Government Affairs Committee in June.

The GSA acts as the federal government’s landlord and also buys goods and services for federal agencies.

Bond could not be reached for comment Friday, but an aide confirmed his decision to block Johnson’s appointment.

Read the full story here.

Of course, it still is a bit remarkable that senators can put holds on nominations without having to be up front about it.

We’ll continue to track the story. One can assume that this will get resolved soon — one way or another.

Written by cdorobek

August 23, 2009 at 9:42 PM

DorobekInsider: The most read items for the third week of August 2009

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The most read items on DorobekInsider and Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

First off… for the DorobekInsider:

  1. DorobekInsider: The buzz of federal government IT: Two scorching IG report on VA IT… sex, lie
  2. DorobekInsider: GSA names Dave McClure to lead the Office of Citizen Services
  3. DorobekInsider: The FCC joins the blogsphere — and Twitter
  4. DorobekInsider: Most read items for second week of August 2009
  5. DorobekInsider: CGI’s official announcement about Molly O’Neill
  6. DorobekInsider: Clearing the desk – and stories mentioned on the Daily Debrief
  7. DorobekInsider: What’s behind the cyber-czar Hathaway resignation? And why is this post so dif
  8. DorobekInsider: It’s my birthday, but… you get the gifts
  9. DorobekInsider: A summer Friday extra – my favorite birthday gift
  10. DorobekInsider: Robertson to be named to head GSA’s OGP and CAO
  11. DorobekInsider: GSA names a OGP-CAO leader — and then merges the organizations
  12. DorobekInsider: 24-hour deal – get Federal News Radio Book Club book Fired Up or Burned Out
  13. DHS director of the National Cybersecurity Center resigns
  14. Ed DeSeve to join the Obama administration
  15. DorobekInsider: CGI Federal scores a coup hiring former EPA CIO Molly O’Neill
  16. DorobekInsider: 1105 Media cuts pay 20 percent — temporarily
  17. DorobekInsider: Management of Change panel: The changing role of the CIO – the liner notes
  18. DorobekInsider: More GSA changes — Leeds as senior counselor and Peck returning at PBS
  19. DorobekInsider: The real story behind the Recovery.gov contract: The need for govt contracting trans
  20. DorobekInsider: 1105 GovInfo names government IT vet Weiss as group publisher

… and the most read items for the week from Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. The latest TSP news
  2. The Daily Debrief
  3. Update: NSPS recommendations
  4. USPTO gets new director
  5. NASA responds to criticisms of various programs
  6. DoD and Web 2.0: A blogger’s take
  7. NSPS update: Unions speak before Board final recommendations
  8. Will Maryland be the new home of cybersecurity?
  9. Registry starts at federalreporting.gov
  10. Management at the GSA: Looking from the outside
  11. Why you might want to be wary of cloud computing
  12. Cybersecurity challenges
  13. GAO: Missile defense systems in Europe could exceed cost estimates
  14. What next, if not Networx? Word from GSA’s conference
  15. New federal guidelines on fighting the flu
  16. President asks Congress to increase troop levels
  17. Cybersecurity concerns from Congress
  18. Navy CIO: Cyber czar needed soon
  19. New NIH director speaks about goals
  20. The possibilities of cloud computing in the federal government
  21. Making procurement easier and more transparent
  22. Fortess Technologies helps the warfighter go wireless
  23. Power IT Down at your agency . . . and help the troops
  24. BRAC update from two local congressmen
  25. DoD seeks guidance from public about Web 2.0 technologies
  26. The 2009 Roosevelt Scholars Act
  27. Mike Causey reports from annual FDR conference
  28. Meet the Innovators: Jay Nath
  29. TSP Talk: Tobacco Bill signed into law
  30. An argument for broadband across the U.S.
  31. TSP Talk: Where is the market going?
  32. TSP changes and automatic enrollment updates
  33. GSA helping to preserve lighthouses
  34. Friday Afternoon Newsstand
  35. The health care debate and militias
  36. SEA speaks about recent report
  37. LandWarNet Conference continues
  38. Friday Fun Day!
  39. GAO examines process concerning EEO complaints
  40. FAI releases 2008 Workforce Competency Survey results
  41. Erroneous reporting: Marines did not ban social networking
  42. OPM issues new hiring policies for military spouses
  43. Federal Dispute Resolution conference wraps up
  44. IG reports cite abuses, nepotism at VA
  45. GSA’s Casey Coleman moves into the cloud
  46. TSA’s Secure Flight changes ready for take off
  47. Congresswoman: DHS’s NPPD deserves recognition
  48. DoD’s health IT strategy
  49. U.S. Army, NIMH team up to stop military suicides
  50. Meet the Innovators: Does Gov 2.0 matter?

Written by cdorobek

August 23, 2009 at 5:58 PM