U.S. adds clerks to clear clunkers

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“Federal employees are pitching in, working nights and weekends to get this taken care of, but it’s a two-way street. The [auto] dealers have to submit accurate and complete applications,” she said.

John D. Porcari, deputy secretary of transportation and the former top transit official in Maryland, was training Friday to help process applications this weekend.

Mr. LaHood was out of town on business and missed the training session, Ms. Zuckman said.

One reason the department decided to wind down the program Monday is because it couldn’t risk exceeding the program’s $3 billion budget while Congress was in recess, she said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Friday the administration would not seek additional funding for CARS when Congress returns.

The extra program workers are located mainly in Washington and at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, which houses air traffic controllers as well as support personnel.

An FAA memo obtained by The Washington Times reads in part:

“We have been asked to provide volunteers to assist with this high-visibility program … employees may work during regular business hours (providing mission allows) and/or overtime.

“The [Air Traffic Organization] has been asked to provide a list of 100 employees to assist. They will be asked to attend a two-hour training course this afternoon. The task is expected to take 5 to 10 days.”

But Ms. Zuckman said that only support personnel, such as in finance and operations, were asked to work on the clunkers program.

“Nobody is being ordered to do anything; we weren’t asking air traffic controllers to leave their posts. We’re using budget and accounting people primarily,” she said.

“It was made clear that no core mission activities of the FAA are to be affected by this effort, especially as they could relate to air traffic operations.”

A union spokeswoman confirmed the account Friday.

“Air traffic controllers are not being asked to do this,” said Alex Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Chuck Neubauer contributed to this report.

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