New Reality Series: Heck's Kitchen

Tuesday - 8/25/2009, 4:00am EDT

People who follow government and know Washington have long been aware of rivalries and turf wars between competing federal agencies.

It doesn't matter who is president or which political party controls Congress. The turf wars go with the turf.

Sometimes the battles are a big deal. Like war-or-peace-which-is-it? issues between the State Department and the Pentagon.

The long-running fights can be over money (as in the Office of Management and Budget says no!) Or over prestige or programs or policy, when the Government Accountability Office issues a (usually) scathing report about something or other. Or which Cabinet secretary gets to represent the president as a state funeral.

Remember large egos (regardless of political party) are always involved.

But the biggest food fight (and this is where it pays to be a Washington insider because we know these things) involves one of the most basic human wants and needs: Food.

Since the Civil War federal agencies have secretly waged food wars and built little and big empires based on canned food. More precisely what they can do with it.

Today FederalNewsRadio is gonna blow the lid off the whole thing. Kick the can as it were.

Unimpeachable sources confirm there will be a major food fight today, just blocks from the White House. At 1900 E Street N.W. to be precise. Thanks to us this will not be secret for long.

In the best traditions of the news media we will be there to first stir up trouble and then report on it - from a safe distance. The combatants will come from the Office of Personnel Management, the State Department, the Department of Interior and the General Services Administration.

For weeks teams of artisans have been working feverishly, on their own time, to develop a super weapon to win this war once and for all.

Their weapons of choice: Cans of chili, tuna, tomatoes, potatoes and whatever other containers contain food items. Spam in this case is welcome.

OPM is sponsoring a government-wide "Yes We Can Can" contest. In this case the "can" is literally a can. Hopefully lots of cans. Cans of food.

Yes we can CAN

Feds from various agencies, sources say, have been dropping off cans of food (which will go to the needy). Some of them will be used to create special works of art. Perhaps there will be a canned replica of Michelangelo's David, done with cans of corn and Vienna sausages, on display.

While it is supposed to be fun, it's also for a good cause. I've agreed to judge the contest. Word is that a renegade faction at the State Department wanted celebrity TV chef Gordon Ramsay, but a group at GSA said his purported talent fee ($7 million for an hour's work, plus some food to take home) would not pass muster. They threatened to leak the information to the media and his loss is my gain.

The session/judging/debacle/rumble (choose one) gets going about 1 p.m. today at the Office of Personnel Management. Get your can moving and come on over if possible. It could be fun, and the underlying purpose is very serious.

Your Turn

OPM Director John Berry joins us - again. This time to talk about the "Feds Feed Families" program tomorrow on Your Turn with Mike Causey. So far, feds have donated 83 tons of stuff. We'll talk with the Director about what they're going to do with all of it. The show will be live from the Capital Area Food Bank. For more on the program, click here.

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

According to vacations.com's "21 Oddly Named Places and the Stories Behind Them", Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, Massachusetts is pronounced just like it's spelled.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com