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Contractor group seeks stellar performers in procurement

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The Coalition for Government Procurement is taking nominations for this year’s Excellence in Partnership Awards, which honors acquisition officials who have made significant strides in promoting and using multiple-award contracts. 

Nominations are accepted for the following categories through Oct. 1:

For contractors and government agenncies that have developed significant innovative solutions resulting in savings through sound acquisition planning and development, and well defined contracting requirements:
Contractor Savings Award
Government Savings Award (Civilian)
Government Savings Award (DoD)

For individuals or offices that facilitated open communication between government and industry during the acquisition process and effectively breaking down communication barriers to create a collaborative procurement environment:
Myth-Busters Award (Civilian)
Myth-Busters Award (DoD)

Lifetime Acquisition Excellence Award: Presented to an individual in the procurement community for delivering best-value solutions and who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to improving the federal acquisition system.

Best Veteran Hiring Program (Government): Presented to a government agency for promoting and executing a robust and successful veteran hiring program to the benefit of men and women in uniform.

Best Veteran Hiring Program (Industry): Presented to a government contractor for promoting and executing a robust and successful veteran hiring, teaming or subcontracting program to the benefit of men and women in uniform.

Award winners will be honored during the coalition’s upcoming fall conference Oct. 24-25 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. If you have any questions, please email events@thecgp.org.

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WaPo: Why Obama can’t fire anyone

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The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein had an interesting column yesterday about Senate gridlock and how it could be forcing President Obama and agency heads to stick with people they’d like to fire. Money quote:

The problem gets worse as it goes deeper. It’s not just that [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner can’t be fired. It’s that he, in turn, can’t fire anybody. Treasury is understaffed, and there’s little reason to believe that the Senate will consider its nominees anytime soon. If Geithner is displeased with the performance of an appointed subordinate, he can’t ponder whether America would be better off with another individual in that office. Instead, he must decide whether America would be better off if that office were empty.

This has a couple of effects. For one thing, it makes the bureaucracy less accountable, and over the long run, it makes it less effective. Plenty of Senate Republicans complain that schools can’t fire bad teachers, but they’ve made it so that department heads can’t fire bad undersecretaries. For another, it pushes the White House and the agencies to rely on positions that don’t require Senate confirmation, leading to a proliferation of advisers and counselors who don’t have the power of appointees and aren’t subject to any congressional scrutiny. It’s the worst of both worlds.

We’d like to hear your take on this issue. How has your office been hampered by the Senate’s inability to approve even routine nominations? Sound off in the comments section below, and if you’d like us to keep your thoughts private, just say so and we won’t publish them. Or you could e-mail me at slosey@federaltimes.com.

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Senate approves dozens of nominees

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The Senate approved dozens of President Barack Obama’s nominees this morning before departing for the holidays. The Senate will return on Jan. 21.

Approved nominations include:

  • Adele Logan Alexander as a member of the National Council on the Humanities;
  • Paul T. Anastas as an assistant Environmental Protection Agency administrator;
  • Anne Slaughter Andrew as ambassador to Costa Rica;
  • Alberto Fernandez as ambassador to Equatorial Guinea;
  • Michael Khouri as a Federal Maritime Commissioner;
  • Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis as ambassador to Hungary;
  • David Daniel Nelson as ambassador to Uruguay;
  • John Norris as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission;
  • Robert Perciasepe as deputy EPA administrator;
  • Scott Boyer Quehl as the Commerce Department’s chief financial officer and an assistant secretary;
  • Leslie Rowe as ambassador to Mozambique;
  • Lynnae Ruttledge as commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Education Department;
  • Miriam Sapiro as a deputy U.S. trade representative;
  • Rajiv Shah as an U.S. Agency for International Development administrator;
  • Thomas Alfred Shannon, Jr., as ambassador to Brazil;
  • Alan Solomont as ambassador to Spain and Andorra;
  • David Strickland as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;
  • Mary Burce Warlick as ambassador to Serbia;
  • James Warlick, Jr., as ambassador to Bulgaria;
  • Grayling Grant Williams as director of the Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement, Homeland Security Department;
  • Mary Jo Wills as ambassador to Mauritius.

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Committee approves Johnson, Beers nominations

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The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved two nominations today:

  1. Martha Johnson, to be administrator of the General Services Administration.
  2. Rand Beers, to be under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Homeland Security Department.

Both now face confirmation by the full Senate.

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Obama deputizes seven; appoints one

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The White House today announced seven nominees for deputy and assistant secretaries and administrators.

Here it goes:

  1. Kathleen Merrigan is Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of the Agriculture Department. She is currently the director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment masters and doctorate program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.
  2. Jon Cannon was nominated to be the deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He is currently the director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Program at the University of Virginia. He previously worked at the EPA during the Reagan, Bush I and Clinton administrations, eventually becoming general counsel of the agency. 
  3. Seth Harris, a former Clinton-administration Labor official, has been nominated for the job of deputy secretary of the Labor Department. He was the leader of Obama’s agency working group for labor, education and transportation during the transition. He is currently the director of Labor and Employment Law Programs at New York Law School. 
  4. John Morton was nominated to become the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Homeland Security Department. He is a career Justice Department employee who has focused on immigration enforcement and criminal prosecution. 
  5. Ashton Carter, another former Clinton administration official, is Obama’s pick for under secretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. He is the current chair of the International and Global Affairs faculty at Harvard’s the Kennedy School. 
  6. April Boyd was nominated to be the assistant secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Commerce Department. She was the chief of staff for Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif. 
  7. Tom Strickland has been nominated to be assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department. He is currently the chief of staff for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

In case you were counting that’s one hill staffer, one current career fed, one current political appointee, two former Clinton officials and four academics. But no matter their backgrounds, all of these folks have to be confirmed by the Senate before taking on their new roles.

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Transition Watch: Donovan gets deputy at HUD

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The new sheriff at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, now has a deputy.

The White House announced yesterday it nominated Ron Sims for the post.

Sims is the county executive of King County, Washington, which includes Seattle. As deputy, he will manage HUD’s day-to-day operations. HUD has a $39 billion operating budget and approximately 8,500 employees.

Donovan called Sims “the perfect deputy secretary candidate” saying:

His experience at the helm of a large urban government provides a critical perspective and his collaborative approach to problem-solving has prepared him to effectively lead HUD’s operations as the agency charts a new aggressive course.

Sims now faces Senate confirmation before he takes the post.

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