DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Secretary Steven Chu
A Nobel Prize winner (with a YouTube following), physicist Chu, is challenged with taking America from oil-dependent to energy-efficient. As a sweeping climate bill continues to be debated by Congress, Chu plans to invest $3.2 billion in energy efficiency and conservation projects and is pushing for carbon tariffs on imports. He recently announced $6 billion in new funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for use in accelerating environmental cleanup work and creating thousands of jobs across 12 states.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Secretary Arne Duncan
In April, Duncan distributed $44 billion in funds from Obama’s recovery act to save education jobs, improve K-12 and higher education, and fund public safety and other government programs. He is pushing for more autonomy for schools, innovation in teacher pay, programs to attract only the best and brightest teachers, and an extended school calendar — six days a week, at least 11 months a year, to be exact. As secretary of education, Duncan is charged with upgrading learning standards, making higher education affordable, and boosting graduation rates.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS
Secretary Eric K. Shinseki
A Vietnam War veteran, Shinseki has oversight over the implementation of a modified Post-9/11 GI bill, which goes into effect Aug. 1, and the allotment of a budget increase of more than $25 billion to be used to expand the VA healthcare program to serve an additional 500,000 veterans by 2013. Shinseki, known for butting heads with former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfield in his push for more troops in Iraq, has pledged to transform the department to better cater to 21st century veterans, upgrading many services and initiatives.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Secretary Janet A. Napolitano
Napolitano, who once served as governor and attorney general in Arizona, has been traveling to Mexico to begin working out details of her $400 million plan to halt illegal smuggling and immigration which includes sending an additional 360 agents to the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. With reference to terrorism as “man caused disasters” in her plight to change the fearful tone of the “War on Terror,” she unveiled final allocations of $970 million for 10 federal programs designed to protect the country’s transportation system from terrorism.