Who's in charge?
Last Thursday, the same day that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration confirmed that a pair of its astronauts had shown up to work drunk, the Government Accountability Office warned with far less fanfare about NASA's "lack of accountability" and "weak internal controls," which leave the space agency's equipment vulnerable to loss, theft and misuse.
"For years, GAO and others have reported that NASA does not maintain effective control over the $35 billion of property, plant and equipment," reports the GAO, which revealed that over the past 10 years "NASA reported that it lost over $94 million of equipment."
Furthermore, the GAO charges in its report, NASA management was "unresponsive to prior equipment-management recommendations, frequently did not investigate equipment losses, and was reluctant to hold employees accountable for loss."
The investigative arm of Congress also found that NASA "lacks the integrated systems" to record equipment purchases, and as a result NASA over the last decade "failed to enter $199 million of equipment purchases into its property-management system."
Concludes the GAO: "These problems are deeply rooted in an agency culture that does not demand accountability or fully recognize the value of effectively managing government assets."
Billboards for Bush
One of President Bush's most visible supporters during the 2004 presidential election has been sued by the Federal Election Commission in U.S. District Court.
The FEC charges that Stephen Adams failed to report and include proper disclaimers on $1 million worth of billboard ads - 435 billboards in all, advocating the re-election of Mr. Bush - during the president's race against Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
According to the filing, Mr. Adams made an "independent expenditure" to pay for the billboards in four states - Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and South Carolina - and for that reason, the highly visible ads should have been reported to the FEC.
"Mr. Adams failed to file timely the required 48-hour notice for independent expenditures, filing it more than six weeks late, and only five days before the election," the FEC states. "In addition, the billboards' disclaimers were incomplete and did not contain the required sponsor information or state that the billboards were not authorized by any candidate or party."
The billboards appeared Sept. 7 through Nov. 2, 2004 (Election Day).
Now that's low
"A remarkable level of cynicism about Washington."
Or so the latest George Washington University "Battleground 2008 Poll" is summed up, with 71 percent of likely voters saying members of Congress put partisan politics ahead of constituents.
As for the much-ballyhooed midterm elections, which handed control of Capitol Hill to Democrats?
"The president's approval rating is still low, but few would have predicted last January that the Congress as an institution would be facing its lowest approval levels in history," the poll observes.
Found one seat
That was one-time 2008 presidential prospect and former Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner sitting alone - and unrecognized, for the most part - on the steps of Tavern Square in Old Town Alexandria at 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, soaking up the sun and chatting into his phone as tourists and residents strolled past on crowded King Street.
Don't be fooled. While the influential moderate Democrat continues to play a behind-the-scenes adviser role as his party works to retake the White House, his name continues to surface as a potential vice presidential candidate by this time next year. Mr. Warner also has considered running for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and even running again for governor in 2009.