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FCW Insider: Live blogging from the Williams hearing

So I am at the confirmation hearing for Jim Williams, who has been nominated  to be administrator of the General Services Administration. (I'm actually here early. That will teach me for not checking to see if the time has changed before I come.)

Somewhat surprisingly, there has been a lot of quick work to get to this point. It was only a month ago that Williams was officially nominated by the president. Of course, the big question is... how quickly can he actually get confirmed. As I have mentioned before, there aren't many days on the Senate's calendar... and September 1 isn't all that far away.

I was talking to somebody about it yesterday, but this must be a remarkable experience to go through a confirmation hearing. I have heard from GSA folks about all the briefing papers they have given to Williams... and all the meetings preparing for this hearing. Frankly, I just can't imagine what it is like.

There has also been some questions about how difficult of a grilling Williams will get. Will they dive in to the whole Sun Microsystems GSA schedule contract issue? How much will they focus on US-VISIT?

My guess is... not all that much. In the end, outside of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), I'm not sure people really understand -- let alone care -- about the Sun-GSA schedule contract issue. I mean, try explaining to a constituent at home why it matters, outside of some suggestion that there was waste, fraud and abuse.

My perception also is that lawmakers understand there are only six months left. Williams is a career public servant who is widely well respected, so...my guess is it won't be all that difficult, but...stay tuned.

As I say, if the technology works right, I'll be live blogging from the hearing, for those of you who aren't able to watch online. FCW reporter Matthew Weigelt is here and will be filing a story... and I'll write something here before the day is out. So...keep refreshing.

11:35a...So the hearing has been delayed until at least noon. But Williams is going to have two powerful voices speaking up for him -- Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), and Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security Secretary who, of course, hired Williams for the US-VISIT post.

11:41a...From Williams' prepared statement: "I want you to know that, if confirmed, I would also work to maintain GSA's status as one of the top places to work in the federal government; to maintain and improve the excellent financial record we have achieved, and continue to focus on attracting and retaining bright, energetic and committed public servants -- particularly in the acquisition field."

12:15p...give or take...Disappointment. The hearing has been postponed until Friday at 12 noon ET... Unfortunately there were technical issues -- my wireless card wasn't getting a connection -- so I wasn't able to update until now. We're told that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), was involved in a classified briefing and it looked like it was going to continue for some time, so they decided to delay it. It's too bad, actually. Williams had something of a posse. His family was there including his wife, his daughter, who came down from New York, and his son, and then some omnipresent Williams siblings. His father-in-law was even there. All very nice...Despite the lack of a hearing, we did get something of value: Williams' opening statement and Lieberman's opening statement. The committee also provided us with the background questions that they ask nominees. These are mostly staff questions, and they are a t ally much more relevant to our world then most of the issues raised during the hearing itself. This document is probably 50 pages long, so we're just going through it. (It asks questions like listing every speech he has given in the past five years -- can you imagine? It also asks his views on government procurement.)... We also had a brush with GSA press folks. Williams came out after the hearing was canceled and he was talking to us briefly. Weigelt asked jokingly what he was going to do to get feds to use the stairs more -- and the GSA press folks freaked out, all but running a body blow between Williams and Matthew. She was just doing her job, of course, but really... Yep -- that is the question that is going to stump him!... It didn't quite measure up to one of my favorite Meet the Press moment ever, but... it was close.

Posted on Jul 24, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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