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Mary Schiavo is excellent at inspiring fear of flying. The Transportation Dept.'s former inspector general, who resigned in protest in 1996 over the quality of federal air-safety management, has released a scathing indictment of the Federal Aviation Administration that bolsters critics' worst fears. Her book, Flying Blind, Flying Safe, charges that the FAA ignores its own safety rules.

Schiavo, 41, has had several run-ins with her former employer. As inspector general, she led investigations into the FAA's lax oversight of ValuJet before its 1996 crash in Florida, the use of counterfeit aircraft parts, and the FAA's inadequate security standards at U.S. airports. "The FAA is not the tough watchdog it needs to be," she says. "It's time to make changes."

Her headline-grabbing style has won Schiavo a lot of enemies. "She likes to throw bombs," gripes one congressional staffer. But will she slow down? Sources say Schiavo, a native Ohioan now teaching at Ohio State University, may soon run for office. FAA officials, fasten your seatbelts.By Christina Del Valle EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top


TIME FOR AN AUTO SUMMIT. CEOs of the Big Three U.S. auto makers are scheduled to meet with President Clinton at the White House on Apr. 3, BUSINESS WEEK has learned. The wide-ranging agenda includes economic, safety, and trade issues. Among them: Detroit's concerns about the cheap Japanese yen and its impact on the competitiveness of American cars. Other topics will include federal emissions standards, seatbelts, and air-bag safety. White House officials say the meeting is part of President Clinton's ongoing attempts to seek the advice of business leaders on his second-term agenda. The President has met with other business leaders, but usually to discuss topics such as education and welfare reform.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top


HOME DEPOT MAY NEED TO do some home repairing of its own. On Mar. 24, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission moved to intervene in one of three sex-discrimination lawsuits against the company. The EEOC is interested in a 1995 case filed in New Orleans by female employees representing victims of alleged discrimination in 310 Home Depot stores. Meanwhile, a class action in California covering more than 17,000 current and former female employees in the retailer's West Coast division is due to go to trial in September. A third lawsuit, which has not yet received class-action status, alleges discrimination in the nine-state Northeast division. Home Depot denies any wrongdoing and says it will "vigorously oppose intervention."EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top


MCI COMMUNICATIONS LANDED a big one on Mar. 26, when it snagged a contract with the United States Postal Service worth up to $3 billion. The deal could be MCI's largest contract to date and is guaranteed to be worth a minimum of $100 million. Under the contract, MCI will establish and run a telecommunications network for the post office that will connect up to 34,000 post offices around the country. The win could take the sting out of losing another major contract. On Mar. 10, Kmart switched its long-distance and data-communications business, worth about $43 million a year, to AT&T.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

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