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Federal File: The drug czar's status; Transitions

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People tapped for high-level federal posts usually decline to talk to reporters until after the Senate acts on their nomination.

But William J. Bennett granted a few interviews last week to try to stem criticism of the decision by President Bush that he will not have full Cabinet status if confirmed as the first federal "drug czar."

The former Secretary of Education, whose confirmation hearings are set for March, told reporters the decision did not bother him and that he had "the President's confidence." He also said he would not discuss his priorities until after he has prepared the plan for governmentwide anti-drug efforts that he is required to complete within 180 days of his confirmation.

At a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors here last week, Mr. Bennett dropped hints that he would take a different approach to his new job than he did to his old one.

While he has "ambiguous" feelings about the proper federal role in education, he said at the conference, fighting drugs "is emphatically the business of the federal government." And although he spent much of his tenure at ed defending proposed budget cuts and arguing that reform need not be expensive, Mr. Bennett said of the war on drugs: "Some of this effort is going to take money."

C. Ronald Kimberling, a former assistant secretary for postsecondary education, has quit his job with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation to work for a trade-school company that has recently faced charges of mismanagement.

California state auditors charged last year that United Education and Software had improperly calculated and distributed more than $400,000 in student aid and that it had not taken required steps to collect on defaulted loans.

Mr. Kimberling will represent ues before government agencies and trade associations and perform internal audits, according to a company news release. The firm operates a home-study school and 32 career schools.

Vice President Dan Quayle, who had already hired William Kristol as his domestic-policy adviser, last week added another former Education Department administrator to his staff.

Diane Weinstein, who has served as deputy general counsel and acting general counsel at the department, was named counsel to Mr. Quayle.

Mr. Kristol was Mr. Bennett's chief of staff until he left to run the unsuccessful Maryland Senate campaign of Alan Keyes.--jm

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