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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 10, 1997
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY

3:15 P.M. EDT

Q Bruce?

MR. REED: Yes, sir.

Q If all employers in the country, public and private, followed today's example, would you meet your goal of getting 2 million folks off the caseloads in the next four years?

MR. REED: Okay, a little math; we'll try not to make it too confusing. The President said in the State of the Union that he wanted to move 2 million from welfare to work over the next four years. The average size of a welfare family is 2.8 people. Two million people translates into about 700,000 adults. Ten thousand is around 1.5 percent of 700,000. The federal government, at 1.9 million -- 300,000 smaller than when Elaine started four years ago -- represents about 1.5 percent of the nation's work force. So we feel that the federal government is doing its part. And if the federal government, which has been shrinking in recent years, can meet this commitment, then surely the private sector, which has generated 12 million new jobs in the last four years, can do even more.

Q Could you also address these wide disparities, percentage disparities, among the agencies, and explain this heavy reliance on Commerce to bring in 40 percent of the total?

DR. KAMARCK: The disparities between the agencies are partially due to the kinds of jobs they have available. I mean, these are very -- remember, these are very realistic plans. We think we can meet these goals. So there is partially the kind of work forces they have.

Commerce has a special situation. Commerce in the next four years will prepare for the decennial census. They will hire thousands and thousands of people as enumerators. These are jobs that go from six months to two years, in preparation for the decennial census. Many of these jobs, they're going to start piloting these jobs with welfare recipients in the next few months in major cities. Many of these jobs are good jobs. There is good training involved. And one of the points the President made, I think in his public statement and also in the Cabinet meeting just now, is a temporary job is still a very important step for a welfare recipient. It puts something on their resume, gets them training, gives them confidence, allows them to go to the next employer with a job reference and a referral. Imagine trying to get a job if you've never had one before. And so these are very, very important.

The federal government will be hiring in the next four years a huge number of people to conduct the decennial census, and that's why you see the disproportion in commerce.

Q What is that huge number? I'm sorry.

DR. KAMARCK: You know, I think he said 280,000. Is that --

Q For the census?

DR. KAMARCK: The decennial census, yes. I think it's 280,000. It is a very large -- remember, these are enumerators that actually go and --

Q Four thousand -- three thousand would be welfare recipients?

DR. KAMARCK: Right. You will see that these are small percentages. Generally, these are small percentages of the federal work force. They are very realistic numbers. The federal work force is, compared to the private work force, a more highly educated, highly skilled work force. There's more college graduates, more professionals. So this is, I think, a very realistic assessment.

Q Elaine, what does an enumerator do?

DR. KAMARCK: The basic enumerator goes door to door in neighborhoods finding -- asking the basic census questions: how many people in the household, et cetera, et cetera. Those are the basic enumerator jobs.

Q Is this percentage of the federal work force something that you would -- is that the model you have for private employers that you should -- I don't know what -- about a half a percent of the work force?

DR. KAMARCK: Well, the number of people -- the federal government is about 1.5 percent of the total American work force. So what we did, as Bruce explained, is we made a rough calculation. We said, okay, what is our share? What is our -- as an employer, what is the federal government's share of these 2 million people that the President would like to move from welfare to work. And we came up with approximately 10,000 jobs that we should supply.

Obviously, if the private sector steps up to the plate -- and some industries will be able to do so more than others, just as some departments have been able to do so more than others -- obviously, we can actually do this. We can actually move 2 million people from welfare to work.

Q Is that the percentage that you would urge large employers to take about between a half percent and one percent of their work force devote to --

MR. REED: Well, I think that it's important for any business to do what's consistent with its business interests. As Elaine said, a number of businesses and a number of industries are better poised to hire entry level employees than other companies that are relying heavily on Ph.Ds.

Q What is the national average?

MR. REED: That works out to be about the right national average. But, again, the federal government is not a representative employer. We are so much bigger than, you know, and we have a much more diverse set of -- I mean, we have several different agencies with several different needs.

Q Bruce, the federal government also has some very stringent requirements for hiring, a very complex procedure involved in hiring people. What kind of problems is this going to give you? And did you give federal unions -- I know there were talks with AFG -- did you give them some assurances that the government will not become the hirer of last resort and won't get up into jobs that significantly impact on their membership?

DR. KAMARCK: We absolutely did. We talked to them about this program. The two largest federal unions -- AFG and NTEU -- are planning to hire welfare recipients themselves in their own unions. This is not a new preference. We are not establishing a new legal preferences as, for instance, we have now for veterans. This is not a new preference. This is going to be an aggressive outreach program on the part of the federal agencies who have responded quite enthusiastically to this charge to fill a variety of jobs, both temporary and permanent, that come up in the course of doing business in the federal government.

Even though we are downsizing, we're still a work force of almost 1.9 million people. Each year -- last year, for instance, we hired 58,000 full-time people, just because of turnover. In other words, we're downsizing, but we still have to hire people as people leave.

We hired over 100,000 temporary employees last year so, again, there is a large amount of turnover each year, there's a wide variety of jobs from GS-1s to microbiologists at NIH, and we think that this is a realistic number.

Q Do you know how many --

Q -- will you offer for these welfare recipients, a training program here at the White House?

DR. KAMARCK: What training program here?

Q What kind of training program for these welfare recipients, especially here at the White House. I understand there were two you were looking at, and one was the Marriott.

DR. KAMARCK: There are a variety of private sector training programs out there that have shown great promise. Marriott, of course, being probably one of the best-known, that are very successful in keeping welfare people to work. The agencies will develop their own training programs. There is already in the federal law a worker trainee entrance slot, which is, in fact, for exactly this purpose -- bringing people into the federal work force and training them.

Just now in the Cabinet meeting, the Vice President and President led a discussion about two important aspects of helping people keep jobs: child care and transportation to work. And among the things that they decided to do is that Dave Barram, the head of the General Services Administration, is going to look at ways to make federal day care centers more affordable so that between the TANF money that the welfare recipient brings with them for child care and perhaps some fundraising on the part of these local day care centers, we can make sure that welfare recipients get to use the centers.

Q What about training for the work ethic, though?

DR. KAMARCK: That program goes on -- that will go on agency by agency. In other words, each agency hiring will conduct and create its own training program. Both HHS and OPM will be involved in assisting the federal agencies in developing those.

Q Can we go back to the math equation for a second? You talked about how 700,000 workers would be enough workers to get up to the 2 million goal that the President set. Is it enough workers to satisfy the states' work requirements?

MR. REED: Yes. Our projections for the state requirements on the welfare law are in the neighborhood of 700,000 to 800,000. A lot will depend on continuing case load reduction over the next four years, because the work rates are based on the overall size of the caseload. States get credit for caseload reduction. We've seen a historic drop in the last four years. If that continues, then the number of people who we would need to move from welfare to work would be smaller.

DR. KAMARCK: For the people who are on the worker training program -- so they're essentially getting a lower wage than maybe they would with all the benefits they'd get on welfare --

Q Do you know how much that is, first? Worker trainer slots, how much they get paid?

DR. KAMARCK: They're usually around GS-1 level. They're usually around a GS-1.

Q Which is what?

DR. KAMARCK: General Service One level. I think $12,000.

Q But for those people who are giving up health care or whatever in exchange for the work experience that they hope will be more valuable in the future, some of them will bring with them these child care subsidies. But do they get anything that existing federal workers don't get? In other words, do they get put ahead in line for slots in federal day care centers? Do they get any help with buying their health care or paying --

Q Do they get health care?

DR. KAMARCK: Yes, they get -- well, remember, they get health care. And temporary hires in the federal government under these authorities do get health care.

Q But they have to pay for the premiums themselves.

DR. KAMARCK: Yes, but they get the subsidy that the other hires get. In other words, the federal government kicks -- the federal government has a very nice health care package.

Q But they don't get any -- but they don't get ahead of the line for the -- the federal day care centers are already oversubscribed --

DR. KAMARCK: No, actually, there are vacancies in the federal day care centers. The problem with the federal day care centers is that they are expensive. And so what the discussion was, and Dave Barram is going to work out, is ways that the day care centers themselves, which are locally run and have local boards, can perhaps do sliding scales and the Defense Department does or some plan so that the TANF money or whatever money that a welfare recipient might bring with them would allow them to use the federal day care center.

Q If you hired about 158,000 people last year to the federal government, do you have any idea how many of those people had been on welfare -- just like the two women who were in the Cabinet meeting with the President?

DR. KAMARCK: You know, we did not have time in this month to figure that out. And what we found is there was really no way to figure that out. In other words, the records that OPM keeps of hires are by grade and by agency, but they are not by any previous experience.

But what we have learned anecdotally is that the Social Security Administration has, in fact, been doing this for years now. That's why these two women came from SSA. And then once we began to talk about this with the rest of the Cabinet, people did say, you know, I think there's some former welfare recipients in my department, et cetera. But there is no way of actually knowing that.

Q Can you describe the kinds of jobs that will be opened and --

Q You don't if this 10,000 is any greater magnitude of what you have?

DR. KAMARCK: No way of knowing.

Q Can you describe the kinds of jobs -- in general, across the board -- that people would be applying for and accepted for, and be also specially here in the White House, what kinds of jobs? Are you talking about clerical or --


Q All clerical here?

DR. KAMARCK: Yes. The White House jobs are clerical -- clerical and support.

Q And across the board, what else is there?

DR. KAMARCK: Oh well, if you just look at -- look at these -- look at the different departments and I can give you some ideas. Obviously at Commerce, the big jobs are the census enumerators. You go down -- Interior hires a large number of temporary employees in the summer in the parks, in the park services.

Q Doing what?

DR. KAMARCK: Cleaning up, taking your tickets when the visitors come through the park. They ramp up -- Interior always ramps up during the summer months. A lot of people have made commitments to hire in the Washington area in clerical, mail room kinds of jobs. Social Security Administration hires entry level telephone operators. One of the women here was a claims representative, which is an entry level job, usually with an associates degree from community college.

Again, some of these agencies -- the Veterans Administration runs a whole canteen operations for their veterans hospitals -- and, of course, in their hospitals themselves. So there's orderly jobs and kitchen jobs, et cetera.

So there's a sort of variety of different things. And then what I think was heartening was there is a commitment to hire people in headquarters in clerical jobs, mailroom jobs and other jobs where there's actually opportunities to get into full-time positions and move up.

Q Is it that commitment a quota?

DR. KAMARCK: No, it is not.

Q What's the difference between a commitment -- a commitment with aggressive outreach and a quota? What happens if they don't fill the jobs? Do they fill them with other people?

DR. KAMARCK: Yes, I mean, again, this is not a special preference being created. This is an aggressive outreach action.

Q In practice, what's the difference?

DR. KAMARCK: In practice, this is the target that you aim for. And I would submit, based on what we heard, that these are all low-balls, and that the Cabinet departments feel that they can comfortably meet these and with a little bit of luck, we may actually exceed them.

Q Can I ask you guys a question I asked Mike? All things being equal, two applicants walk in, one is a welfare recipient, one is not. Does the welfare recipient now get the job?


MR. REED: No. What the agencies will be doing that hasn't been done in the past, and what private sector employers need to do as well, is building the bridge from employers to the welfare office. So the outreach that we talk about in an agency headquartered in Omaha that reaches out to the state welfare office, the state welfare office has a bunch of welfare recipients it's trying to move from welfare to work, that federal agency knows about them, wouldn't have otherwise known about them, a connection is made that opens the world of work to these welfare recipients.

So it's not special treatment, it's really just making a connection that otherwise wouldn't have happened.

Q Bruce, Mike talked about the federal government encouraging contractors to hire welfare recipients, but was vague about what that encouragement means. What does it mean?

DR. KAMARCK: Yes. There are many of these agencies that, as you well know -- Defense, Energy, EPA -- have a lot of people under federal contract. And, again, the responsibility of the Cabinet officer is going to be to encourage them to do their part and hire some welfare recipients in their work force.

Q Will there be specific incentives, or will this be rhetorical encouragement?

DR. KAMARCK: No. This will be rhetorical encouragement. We hope by making this commitment today that the federal government is setting an example for the private sector and, of course, the first part of the private sector we ought to be setting an example for are our own contractors.

Q Mike says that this has not yet happened, making this a formal requirement or in some way putting an incentive formally in the process. He said, not yet. Is the administration considering anything with --

DR. KAMARCK: No, no.

Q Why not? I mean, you do with affirmative action, for example is an explicit part of federal contracting --

DR. KAMARCK: Yes. Affirmative action is an explicit part of federal contracting, and obviously probably part of those affirmative action plans can be amended to include outreach to the welfare offices. But we really haven't gotten that far, and we don't think that we actually need to, because the reception we've gotten from the private sector so far in other efforts has been that they've fairly receptive to hiring welfare recipients.

Q Elaine, do you know how many or what percentage of these employees are going to be permanent employees of the government, what percentage are temporary, and also, are they all full-time or are some of them part-time jobs?

DR. KAMARCK: Some will be part-time, some will be full-time. The government hires temporary employees, but after three years can make them into permanent, civil service employees with all the protections. I think many of the entry-level positions here may be temporary, but as you saw the two women today actually made the transition from temporary to permanent work force ones, they did well in the work force.

Q What are the percentages?

Q How many jobs are permanent, full -- I realize there's a value --

MR. REED: The numbers for --

Q -- how many are permanent, full-time jobs?

DR. KAMARCK: How many of which?

Q Of the 10,000 jobs.

MR. REED: We don't have an estimate on that. But to give you the overall numbers for the federal government last year, last year the federal government hired 58,000 permanent and 140,000 temporary, a total of 198,000.

Q At least 40 percent of the jobs that we see have a time limit on it, plus you're talking about some Park Service employment that's summer stuff. So is it fair to say that certainly half the jobs are looking -- at best, half the jobs are temporary?

DR. KAMARCK: Look, I think that you do what you can do. I mean, some of these jobs will be temporary. Do not underestimate the value of a temporary job to somebody who hasn't had a job and who is seeking to go get a job. Try, any one of you, imagine going out to find a job with nothing on your resume. You've got --

Q There's a difference in the stories -- we're trying to write factual stories about what you guys are doing, and if it's a temporary job -- we all know if we went to apply for a job, we'd like to know if it was temporary or permanent. It just makes a difference.

Q I mean, and you're expecting businesses have at least half their jobs be temporary?

DR. KAMARCK: There are temporary jobs in businesses, too, of course. It goes with the cycle. Look -- and a lot of what happens in the government is temporary jobs, in fact, become permanent jobs. Because what -- we have a very tight definition of a permanent job in the government, which is all the rights and privileges that go with the civil service system. So there is -- for everybody we hire, there's always this sort of intermediate period before you get into the permanent civil service.

Q But you have 140,000 temporary and 58,000 permanent last year. I mean, what percentage of those -- do you have any idea what percentage of those temporary jobs actually become permanent?

DR. KAMARCK: You can probably ask OPM. Here comes Donna. (Laughter.)

MR. REED: Let me just say -- Donna will answer. But keep in mind that the welfare problem, by and large, is not a problem of a shortage of jobs. The problem for most welfare recipients is getting attached to the work force in the first place. The vast number of long-term dependent welfare recipients have no work history whatsoever. For them, any job is a good job, and a start in the world of work.

Q Doesn't that go just exactly the opposite of what the President just got through saying here a little while ago and what he's been saying all along, that the problem is that we need to create jobs so that jobs are there for the welfare recipients when they come off the rolls? And now you're saying, you're telling me that the problems isn't --

DR. KAMARCK: No, that's not what he said just now.

SECRETARY SHALALA: Let's start again. Pretend I'm the CEO of Marriott and starting out in the business of trying to do outreach to employee welfare recipients. What the President described today -- and you're focusing on the end game what the numbers are going to be -- was the beginning of the process. And in many ways, the federal government is going to learn, along with the private sector, in both creating job opportunities and using their hiring rules to try to bring welfare recipients -- we've contracted out a lot of our lower-level jobs, so one of the things I'm going to do in my own department is to make sure that whatever we do, whatever services we provide, whatever new kinds of support systems we provide, we provide them for everyone in the department that's in those kinds of jobs.

But you have to see us at the beginning of a process, not at the end. Can I tell you how many jobs will end up as permanent in my department for the 300 commitments we've made? The answer is no. Many of our jobs at that level happen to be on Indian reservations. This is what I will tell you. What we're focusing on is getting people in and giving them successful work experiences so they can either move into permanent jobs in the department, or in other places.

What do we know in the literature about welfare reform and training? What we know is the difficulty is not the initial getting the job, but staying in the job, having a successful experience in that job. That requires a support system. Learning how to put your own safety net together in terms of child care and transportation and other things falling apart, having people that will coach you as you go along in the job.

In Social Security offices across this country, they have long worked with welfare offices to bring people in and created a culture within different offices that would support the new worker coming on. And the point that we're making, I think, is that this government is no different from the private sector employees that we're asking to come into this enterprise. And that is, we're all going to learn together as we take people that have either had no work experience, or have had unsuccessful work experiences, and make sure that our employee assistance programs are adjusted to these new employees, but for everyone that's entry-level and to strengthen those experiences for people.

Q The program that you're using -- if I could ask, the program you're using really is only a temporary program to begin with. I mean, is that not the case?

SECRETARY SHALALA: No, wait a minute.

Q The people who were hired in that program do not stay in those jobs forever.

SECRETARY SHALALA: No, in fact, what every federal agency will do is use what hiring authority seems appropriate for the individuals that are involved. For some workers, it will be the temporary hiring authority. For others, it may be a term hiring authority. For others, it may be the permanent hiring authority.

The personnel offices in the federal departments are pretty sophisticated about using a variety of different authorities. We will use all the flexibility we have honoring the preferences rules for veterans and for employees who have been RIF'd in other federal departments. We have more restraints on us than the private sector, so it's going to take more creativity. And we have long experience with temporary employees who have moved to permanent jobs after a ceratin period of time as jobs opened up. So it's working the system so that we can offer job opportunities.

Q In essence, what you're saying, this is a test case. Is this a pilot project?

SECRETARY SHALALA: No, and let me tell you why it's not a pilot project -- because every federal department is going to take their vacancies and their hiring authority and use the flexibility of that hiring authority to provide opportunities for, and to build the connections with welfare offices around the country to try to identify who we can help to begin their work experience in the federal government. I would not describe it as a pilot.

I run pilots. I sign waivers. I do demonstration projects. This ain't it.

Q So is this -- when you say this is the beginning of a process, why such the emphasis on 10,000 when you don't know if you're going to get there?

SECRETARY SHALALA: Because you guys were going to ask us what kind of numbers we were going to have an because in general we work better with goals and time tables. And so, within that, we were asked to identify looking at our vacancies, looking at our hiring experience, looking at the experience what we know about the work experience of welfare recipients, what did we think we could do so we could give the President a ballpark as to what we were going to be able to do.

Some of us will be under. Some of us will be over. And some of it depends on what happens to the work force over the next couple of years in terms of whether people are starting to retire, what kind of jobs we have to do. In my own department, we're changing the nature of jobs. So it will take some work to do some of this.

Q The issues of helping pay transportation for these people and making federal day care more affordable to them have yet to be worked out?

SECRETARY SHALALA: No. In some departments, it will have to be worked out. But, remember, the federal government already provides child care. The problem we have with our child care system now is a problem we've started to work on, and that is, it is generally too expensive for our lower income workers. And, therefore, one of the things we're going to target for all of our employees that are relatively low income is to see what we can do about either some private sector money raising or subsidies for our lower income workers. We now, in some departments, subsidize transportation for our workers.

In my own department, the National Institutes of Health, and the Administration for Children and Families actually provides some transportation subsidies. Again, we have the flexibility to do that kind of thing.

Let me take two more questions, and then I'm going to get back to work.

Q Could you calculate how much the welfare benefits a person on the rolls would be against going on one of these part-time, entry level salaries?

SECRETARY SHALALA: Yes, let me -- it depends on what community you live in, what the subsidy is. But one of the things we did in welfare bill was try to make work pay. And that is, as someone comes out of welfare, if they have children under six, they automatically must get child care that goes along with the job.

The President has made a huge investment in the earned income tax credit. The average family of four would get about $1,400 of wage supplement once you go into the work force -- add that in. In addition to that, in every state, you get to keep Medicaid for at least a year. In 26 states, you get to keep it for two years.

So if you start to put all these pieces together -- and we're going to work very hard at the jobs coming with benefits, the jobs that many of us are talking about, coming with benefits. But we still have to work out child care system, but not just for these workers, for all lower income workers.

Let me do one more.

Q First, just a technical question. The 10,000 then is a cumulative figure. At the end of the administration, there would have been 10,000; not on any specific date, there will be 10,000 effective --?

MR. REED: It could go higher.

SECRETARY SHALALA: It could go higher.

Q And then more broadly, several times, we've heard the President say, look, the welfare system works for approximately half the people who are on it. They go on for a short time, then leave and get jobs.


Q It's the 50 percent who are in a state of more or less permanent dependency that they're concerned about. Is there anything in this program that is specifically aimed at that 50 percent? It seems like all things being equal, the 50 percent who would get these jobs would be the ones who are more attractive candidates for jobs anyway. And the people for whom welfare reform was not addressed.

SECRETARY SHALALA: It is true that the vast majority of people that get on welfare come off fairly quickly -- and Bruce knows these numbers better than I -- and move into the work force. But often in unsatisfactory experiences, they rotate back. That's why those of us that have been in this business for a long time feel very strongly that it's the nature of the support system and the successful work experience and the training that goes along that makes all the difference.

We have been very successful at popping people off, but keeping them in the work force is the challenge. And that's what we expect to be the federal challenge at the same time.

I've got to go. I'm sorry, I've got to go.

MR. REED: I think, John, just one other point -- one other point on that. Keep in mind, as I said before, this is a partnership. We will be working with state welfare offices, who will be working very hard to try to move the most difficult long-term welfare recipients into the work force.

Q -- the fact that California goes against the national trend in terms of actually having an increased welfare roll?

MR. REED: I think that they've had population growth, the recession lasted longer in California. I think that their case load has a larger number of U.S. citizen children born to illegal immigrants who are eligible for welfare. There was an increase there. So those are the nature --

Q In all fairness, with downsizing of the federal government, corporate downsizing and reform of welfare, for every 10,000 people that you're going to employ at the end of this period, won't there be 150,000 new, needy people who will have been pushed out of the system either by corporate, government downsizing or welfare reform?

DR. KAMARCK: I think you're assuming that all downsizing in the corporate world and in the federal government occurs to people who are hard to employ. That's simply not true. And so corporate -- federal government downsizing, we've downsized a huge amount of people. We don't have as severe unemployment problem around here and the reason is that when you downsize a college graduate, Ph.D., biochemist, whatever, they find another job. It's not a problem of the jobs. And, in fact, most of the federal downsizing has been at middle levels. And people have, in fact, gone and found other jobs. So we're dealing with a very small piece of the work force here.

MR. REED: We have a 5.2 percent unemployment rate. The economy's adding 200,000 jobs a month. We've added 12 million in the last four years. We have a growing economy. The problem is not a shortage of jobs in America.

Q Why didn't we do it in 1960, then?

Q -- percent is only one part of the population. There are some populations that are double that figure. You know that. So let's get back to the point of whether people are going to be left -- when you get to your goal, are there going to be people simply left out?

MR. TOIV: One more question after this.

MR. REED: Well, thank you for raising that point. Let me answer -- I'll answer this one Barry -- because we are pressing in our budget negations with Congress for an additional $3.6 billion that states and communities can use to help move people from welfare to work because we want to make absolutely sure that in the areas that do have a shortage of jobs that we can make welfare succeed there, as well.

Q Bruce, how big is the child care problem in dollars? If federal child care is too expensive and you're going to have to subsidize it for people at the bottom end of the scale anyway, how big is the problem in dollars?

MR. REED: Well, for people moving from welfare to work, as Donna said, they already have a guarantee of child care if they have children under six. In the welfare bill, we gave states $22 billion for child care, an increase of $4 billion from what they had otherwise. So we're increasing the amount of child care available.

A number of states are also going to try to expand the availability of child care by training welfare recipients to be child care workers. But there's no question that -- ask any parent across the income scale -- child care remains a big problem for every working parent trying to make ends meet.

It's not going to be a particular problem for our effort to move people off of welfare into work and get jobs in the federal government, because most will come with a subsidy that they get from their own state.

Q Bruce, what is the income range, the salary range in dollar figures that these 10,000 jobs will --

MR. REED: Well, a GS-1, which is the most common of these, is about $12,000 a year.

Q Do you think a person can live on $12,000?

Q A number of states are looking at a waiver that Texas has -- at HHS that would privatize its entire welfare program. Is that causing some concern with the administration?

MR. REED: I don't have an answer for you. Thanks.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 3:49 P.M. EDT