Federal File: Relocation; Generosity; Applause

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If the Clinton Administration has its way, Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and many other Education Department officials will be cleaning out their desks in 1994.

They won't be out of work; they'll merely be relocating.

President Clinton's proposed fiscal 1994 budget includes funds for a $56.5 million renovation of Federal Office Building 6, which houses the largest concentration of the department's offices, including those of the secretary and deputy secretary.

The department's operating budget also includes nearly $4.5 million to finance a move into temporary quarters in F.O.B. 10B, which is just around the corner from the agency's current home.

That building now houses some offices of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which also shares F.O.B. 6 with E.D.

Many groups would not give a warm reception to a Cabinet secretary whose agency had just proposed drastically slashing federal programs in their area of interest. Devotees of libraries are apparently more generous.

It had only been two weeks since the Clinton Administration had proposed a budget that would slash funding for the Education Department's library programs by 21 percent when Secretary Riley addressed a conference sponsored by Friends of Libraries U.S.A. last week. The audience nonetheless gave him an enthusiastic round of applause after a speech emphasizing the importance of literacy.

Mr. Riley made one reference to the cuts, saying that the Administration plans to "eliminate several small programs because of the high overhead cost of running them.''

"Our focus is on public-library access,'' he said.

Indeed, the budget would increase state grants for public libraries and hold inter-library "cooperation grants'' level, while eliminating funds for library construction and six small, specialized programs.

Florida education officials attending a White House ceremony last week for Tracey Leon Bailey, the Teacher of the Year, also wound up as spectators at a news conference, presenting the unusual scene of an audience applauding as President Clinton answered questions from reporters.

After Mr. Clinton presented the Satellite Beach, Fla., science teacher with his award, he segued into another topic--the fiery death of religious cult members in Waco, Tex.

President Clinton's defense of the Administration's decision to turn up the pressure on the Branch Davidians' compound was greeted with hearty applause from the educators.--J.M. & J.R.

Vol. 12, Issue 31

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