January 25, 2017
Laura Pietrantoni Partnership for Public Service
Every four years, Americans elect a president, but what we often forget is that we do not just choose one leader, but many other leaders—several thousand in fact.
To support him as he develops and executes his policy agenda, President Trump has the authority to name 4,000 political appointees, including about 1,100 who require Senate confirmation.
These politically appointed positions not only include the members of the Cabinet, but top leadership spots such as deputy and assistant secretaries, general counsels, chief financial officers and numerous other senior executives involved in policy execution and management of the departments and agencies.
It is critical for the new president to get his top 100 leaders chosen, thoroughly vetted and confirmed by the Senate as quickly as possible to ensure the effective operation of the government. The president so far has named members of his Cabinet and a handful of deputies, some of whom are still awaiting Senate confirmation. But he needs to move quickly to expand his list of appointees, creating a diverse and qualified leadership team to support each of his Cabinet secretaries.
The Center for Presidential Transition also recommends that the president seek to have at least 400 top Senate-confirmed appointees named and in place by the August congressional recess. Historically, less than 30 percent of these jobs have been filled by the summer of a president’s first year in office.
In some instances, the slowness in filling key jobs has been the fault of the White House in submitting nominations, while in other situations, bottlenecks have occurred in the Senate. In either case, leaving important jobs vacant that deal with national security, public health and other important domestic concerns is a disservice to the American people and could handicap the new administration.
For the president to deliver on his campaign promises and for the government to effectively deliver important services to the American people, the new president needs to accelerate the pace of his appointments and get his full team of leaders confirmed and on the job.