In the Obama White House's ongoing quest to create the appearance that it is fixing the economy, the administration has asked the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Interior, Defense, Energy, and the Small Business Administration, to look for hiring opportunities related to the BP Gulf oil spill cleanup.
Each agency has some role in the oil spill response and cleanup process, though others, like the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have not been asked to consider new permanent or temporary hiring. The Obama Administration is also said to be considering whether its volunteer programs can somehow be used to place recent college graduates in government-funded jobs in the Gulf region.
"We're not talking about taxpayer dollars creating these jobs," says a White House aide. "This is BP paying for the jobs; we're just sending them the bill. If DHS or Interior has to hire someone down there, it's BP that is going to pay. What happens down the road after the cleanup is complete is anyone's guess."
Homeland Security and Interior have identified potential work opportunities in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, as well as work in Washington, D.C. and several other regional offices, where claims review and other management duties might be filled. Already, both agencies have been given lists of current U.S. Census temporary workers in those states, who will be given first crack at any cleanup jobs that become available.
AHEAD OF THE POSSE
White House budget director Peter Orszag isn't citing the need to "spend more time with his family" (it would be a bit crass given that he dumped his pregnant girlfriend to take up with a TV news reader whom he is now marrying). But White House insiders say another possible reason for his exit, which he more than likely will also not want to discuss, is the looming bill coming due for the Obama administration's health care reform initiative and a budget process that may be even uglier and more difficult than last year's, which put a freeze on non-security, discretionary spending.