Obama Letters Promised Gov't Workers an Overhaul

He wooed bureaucrats with expanded roles
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2008 8:11 AM CST
A supporter holds up a sign for Barack Obama at a rally in Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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(Newser) – With the election fast approaching, Barack Obama sent letters to seven federal agencies, hoping to win the votes of their employees with detailed—and generally very generous—promises, the Washington Post reports. Obama promised to make departments more powerful and effective, to improve worker rights, and eliminate unpopular Bush practices. “I asked him to put it in writing,” said the head of the American Federation of Government Employees, “and he didn’t flinch.”

Obama made promises requiring additional spending at six of the seven agencies—only Defense was left out, but those cuts might pay for the other promises. “These domestic discretionary programs are peanuts in the grand scheme of things,” said the head of one public employees group. Obama promised to cut costs by contracting out less work, but warned that some cuts were necessary given “the fiscal mess left by the current administration.”