Itâ€™s Halloween on Friday and as if on cue the Defense Department has released a new acquisition regulation about the use of humans in research contracts. Maybe itâ€™s just me, but government and human testing sounds like the makings of a horror flick or thriller.
OK, so the rule is probably not that scary.
In fact, the rule is aimed at enhancing protections for human guinea pigs by ensuring contracts contain a clause mandating researchers to follow a stringent set of human research rules, such as obtaining informed consent from participants andÂ receiving approval from a review board.
Here’s a little something light for your Friday afternoon: The crack statisticians at theÂ Census Bureau have pulled together some figures estimating what Halloween might bring next Friday night, such as:
â€¢36 million potential trick-or-treaters. That’s how many kids between the ages ofÂ 5 and 13 are estimated to be in this country, but it doesn’t take into account immature adults — like this reporter — who might try to score some candy anyway. And those trick-or-treaters will visit…
â€¢110 million occupied households in the United States.Â All of which had better be stocked with something good, unless they like cleaning up eggs and toilet paper.
â€¢Almost 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins for jack-o’-lanterns and pie. And where should you go to find the perfect pumpkin to carve? Illinois, which grew 542 million pounds of pumpkin in 2007.
â€¢24.5 pounds of candy. That’s how much the average American eats each year, but many trick-or-treaters will easily top that.
â€¢And North Carolina seems to be the ideal state to celebrate Halloween. The Census Bureau points out that the Tarheel State is the home of Transylvania County, a city called Pumpkin Center, and not one, but two Cape Fears.
Sadly, the Census Bureau doesn’t estimate how many hapless trick-or-treaters might get the Charlie Brown treatment: rocks.
On Monday, Scott Bloch announced he planned to resign on Jan. 5, the scheduled end of his term.
Today, apparently, the White House decided that wasn’t soon enough.
Bloch was called to 1600 Pennsylvania for a meeting this morning and was dismissed from the agency, according to sources. OSC is holding an all-hands meeting right now so Bloch can break the news.
More details as they come…
Update: Sources say the Federal Protective Service prevented Bloch from re-entering the agency’s M Street offices after his meeting at the White House.
Update II: Background on the strange case of Scott Bloch.
Update III: According to OSC spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, William Reukauf, the senior associate special counsel, will take over Bloch’s post on an acting basis.
Update IV: According to the White House, Bloch will be placed on administrative leave for the duration of his term.
Tags: Scott Bloch
Many jobs in federal government have what are lovingly termed “other duties as assigned.” But acting General Services Administration chief Jim WilliamsÂ has discovered that his “other duties” may be the most important of all.
In a speech during the GEIA Vision ConferenceÂ today, Williams mentioned that one little known duty of his office is to declare an apparent winner of the presidential election on Nov. 4.
Since the Electoral College won’t meet to officially declare a president-elect until Dec. 15, GSA needs to name an apparent winner so the agency can move forwardÂ quicklyÂ with its transition duties in the slim 77-day time period between Nov. 4 and Jan. 20, Williams said.
Â From my perspective I donâ€™t care who wins. I just donâ€™t want it to be close, because the administrator has to pick a winner and hand over the keys and say â€˜Letâ€™s get started.â€™
When I became an agent, I was one of seven Latinos, and there were 10,000 white male FBI agents. They said, ‘We don’t discriminate.’ I said, ‘There’s nobody to discriminate against.’
- Former FBI agent Bernardo Perez, on the challenges faced by the Bureau’sÂ Hispanic employees in the 1960s. An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report released this morningÂ found the proportion of HispanicsÂ in the federal work force has increased in recent years, but their representationÂ still lags far behind the percentage of Hispanics in the national work force.
“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night” is supposed to keep the U.S. Postal Service from delivering mail door-to-door across the country. But apparently, it draws the line at hail …. a hail of bullets, that is.
According to a Chicago television news report, postal carriers in the Windy City stopped delivering mail to dozens of homes in a particularly dangerous south suburban neighborhood nearly two weeks ago after a morning shooting occurred yards away from a mail carrier.
Residents’ mail is being held at the local post office while officials discuss possible solutions, such as putting aÂ cluster box on a street corner for all of the homes. Guess better police patrols isn’t an option.
FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair just told the Senate Banking committee that her agency is studying ways to insure (potentially) hundreds of thousands of mortgages.
It’s an unprecedented proposal for the agency. Bair said the new authority comes from the “bailout bill” approved by Congress earlier this month. Banks would have to renegotiate troubled mortgages, perhaps lowering the interest rate or extending the repayment period. In return, the FDIC would guarantee the mortgages, much the way it guarantees bank deposits.
But the guarantee program would also expose the FDIC to even more financial risk.
Bair didn’t offer many details on the plan during her opening statement; we’ll see if legislators ask about it during the hearing.
Federal agencies have done a commendable job of eliminating the use of Social Security numbers wherever possible, according to a new report by the President’s Identity Theft Task Force. The Social Security Administration no longer uses the nine-digit code — the holy grail for identity thieves — on personnel forms for its own employees. The Defense Department is removing Social Security numbers from military ID cards. And the IRS only lists the last four digits on all federal tax lien documents.
But the nation’s counties have been slower to react. An astonishing 85 percent of the largest counties make records with full or partial SSNs available in bulk or online, according to a Government Accountability Office report issued the same day as the task force report. Smaller counties fare better, posting SSNs in just 41 percent of their public records.
Local governments are able to post this information at will because there’s no federal law restricting state or local governments from displaying Social Security numbers on public records and posting these records online. A bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would do just that. Feinstein used the release of the task force’s report to press for passage of her own bill, which has been languishing in committee for nearly two years.
… but legislators had another group to criticize today for our financial crisis: the credit rating agencies.
As Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., put it during a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee:
The story of the credit rating agencies is a story of colossal failure. The credit rating agencies occupy a special place in our financial markets. Millions of investors rely on them for independent, objective assessments. The rating agencies broke this bond of trust, and federal regulators ignored the warning signs and did nothing to protect the public. The result is that our entire financial system is now at risk.
It’s another example of the utterly fragmented state of the nation’s financial regulators, a topic we’ve been following for a few weeks. Two different agencies regulate banks, and another regulates credit unions, institutions with a similar purpose. Nobody regulates credit default swaps.
And the credit rating agencies? The SEC was supposed to regulate those, but it never happened.
The committee has another hearing planned for tomorrow morning, with former Treasury secretary John Snow and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan scheduled to testify.
Do Hispanic people have enough chances to take federal jobs, and later advance into leadership positions? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will consider that question, and what it might do to fix possible problems, at their meeting tomorrow morning in Washington.
The EEOC’s Federal Hispanic Work Group will release its report on Hispanic federal employment, including hiring, retention and leadership development issues. Watch federaltimes.com for more information on what they found.
And if you’re a federal employee of Hispanic descent, we’d like to hearÂ from youÂ in our comments section below. Are you given enough opportunities to develop into a leader? Are there any barriers to finding a job or advancing at your agency?