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NEWS: Jan. 10, 2012

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Efficiency | The Nation
Ag Department to Close
Hundreds of Offices, Labs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled a plan to overhaul and streamline the department's operations, an effort that will involve closing 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs and seven foreign offices to save about $150 million a year. Officials said many of the facilities slated for closure either are no longer staffed or have very small staffs.
>> Government Executive

Taxing and Spending | Houston
Task Force Idea: End Public Pensions
A list of money-saving or cash-generating ideas on its way to Mayor Annise Parker from a city council-appointed task force includes increasing taxes, slashing public-safety spending, turning the city library over to the county and ending public-employee pensions.
>> Houston Chronicle
Amazon to Collect Indiana Sales Tax
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced that has agreed to begin collecting the state's 7 percent sales tax in 2014, adding an estimated $20 million to $25 million to the state's coffers each year.
>> Indianapolis Star
Wayne County Executive Lays Off 44
Embattled Wayne County, Mich., Executive Robert Ficano announced 44 layoffs, including 13 of his appointees, in a move to attack a deficit that was estimated at $160 million in October.
>> Detroit Free Press

Jacob Lew
Jacob Lew
Public Officials | The Nation
Budget Director Replaces
Obama's Frustrated Chief of Staff

After a frustrating year of setbacks and bruising fights with Republicans, President Obama accepted the resignation of Chief of Staff William Daley and turned to a Washington veteran, Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew. Daley had struggled to find a comfort zone in an insular White House, where Obama relies heavily on trusted advisors held over from the 2008 campaign and his Illinois Senate office.
>> Los Angeles Times
Government Veterans Among Candidates to Head OMB
Former OMB official Josh Gotbaum and Gene Sperling, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, are among the names being floated as replacements for outgoing OMB Director Jack Lew.
>> Government Executive
New Jersey Assembly's GOP Leader Dies at Statehouse
Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, the leading Republican of the state's lower house who represented Morris County for 23 years, died in a bathroom inside the Statehouse late Monday night. He was 75.
>> Newark Star-Ledger
Insurer Covers Ogden's Legal Fees for Fired Police Chief
Ogden, Utah's insurer paid $293,018 in legal fees for the unsuccessful defense of the city's the recently terminated chief of police, Jon Greiner, for violating the federal Hatch Act.
>> Salt Lake Tribune

Technology | The Nation
Federal Cloud Vendors Face 170 Security Specs
The White House is speeding ahead on a program to expedite security clearances for cloud-computing products, notifying contractors of about 170 specific protections soon to be required by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.
>> Nextgov

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell
Bob McDonnell
Education | Virginia
Governor: Link Teachers' Contracts
to Performance Evaluations

Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed eliminating the state's current open-ended contracts for public-school teachers and replacing them with annual contracts linked to teachers' performance evaluations--a change strongly opposed by the state teachers' union. He also proposed ditching a state law prohibiting schools from opening before Labor Day.
>> Norfolk Virginian-Pilot
Feds Fault Three States for Lagging on Education Goals
Florida, Hawaii and New York State have been placed on a federal-government watch list because they have not yet complied with goals they set when applying for federal Race to the Top funds.
>> New York Times
Army Eyes Move to E-Textbooks for ROTC
The Army is considering an ambitious project to convert its college-level Reserve Officer Training Corps textbooks to e-books that can take advantage of a digital library's multimedia capabilities.
>> Nextgov

Human Services | Pennsylvania
State Sets Asset Limits for Food Stamps
Pennsylvania plans to make the amount of food stamps people receive contingent on their assets, placing the commonwealth among a minority of states. People under 60 with more than $2,000 in savings and other assets would no longer be eligible.
>> Philadelphia Inquirer
California Ends Push for Welfare Repayments
California will no longer allow counties to seek refunds from former welfare recipients who were minors when their caregivers were overpaid, state Department of Social Services officials announced.
>> San Francisco Chronicle

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Oregon U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall
That's how we rolled in
the Coos.

Amanda Marshall, Oregon's recently appointed U.S. attorney, who spent part of her childhood in a commune, sang and danced for years in a small-town community theater, and as a young prosecutor in Coos County carried a 9mm pistol to crime scenes
>> Portland Oregonian | More quotes

More than 33,000
Number of homeless military veterans for whom the Department of Veterans Affairs, making aggressive use of a voucher program and changing a longtime policy requiring them to to be successfully treated for substance abuse and mental ailments before being given apartments, has housed in the past two and a half years, halfway through a five-year program aimed at ending homelessness among veterans
>> Washington Post | More data

Amundsen at the South Pole
Amundsen at the South Pole
Leadership | Robert F. Brands
in the Deep Freeze

A hundred years ago, Roald Amundsen found glory upon the Antarctic continent. A month later, his rival, Robert Falcon Scott, met a bitter, sad end. Today, for those looking for rationales behind the need for innovation in pursuit of excellence, the race to the South Pole offers both cautionary tales and textbook examples of success and failure.
>> Innovation Coach | More commentaries

Webinar: "Pandemic Planning & Response Techniques"
Jan. 11, 10 a.m. ET

Brookings Institution
Forum: "Principles of Internet Governance: An Agenda for Economic Growth and Innovation"
Jan. 11, 1-3 p.m., Washington, D.C.

Center for American Progress
Discussion: "The Rise and Consequences of Inequality"
Jan. 12, 10-11 a.m. ET, Washington, D.C.

International City/County Management Association
Web conference: "Give Yourself Permission to Manage"
Jan. 12, 1 p.m. ET

National Association of Counties
Webinar: "Introduction to Generating Wind Power for Your Local Communities"
Jan. 12, 2 p.m.

Public Technology Institute
Webinar: "Los Angeles County Location Management System"
Jan. 12, 2 p.m. ET

Brookings Institution
Panel discussions: "Fostering Growth Through Innovation"
Jan. 13, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Washington, D.C.

National Emergency Management Association
Emergency Management Policy & Leadership Forum
Jan. 17-19, New Orleans

U.S. Conference of Mayors
Winter Meeting
Jan. 18-20, Washington, D.C.

1105 Government Information Group
Seminar: "Cybersecurity Implementation Strategies for Present and Emerging Threats"
Jan. 18, 7:30-8:30 a.m. ET, Washington, D.C.

>> Full events listings