Every presidential administration has the opportunity to appoint approximately 4,000 individuals to carry out the elected president’s agenda, and talented people are always needed to serve in these roles. 

So whether you are interested in finding a place in the current administration or the one that begins in 2025, it’s best to consider if an appointment is right for you and how you can prepare to navigate the  process. 

The Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition helps aspiring appointees by providing a wealth of information through our nonpartisan Ready to Serve® centralized online resource.  

Aside from the most senior political appointees that you hear about such as secretaries and deputy secretaries of Cabinet departments, there are many different roles that support the work of the president and their administration. There are four types of appointments: presidential appointments with Senate confirmation; presidential appointments without Senate confirmation; non-career Senior Executive Service; and Schedule C.  

How do I become a political appointee? 

For more information about political appointments and other aspects of presidential transition, check out the Center for Presidential Transition’s website. 

As the presidential election approaches, federal agencies are starting to take “election readiness” steps – the required activities to prepare for a possible new administration or a second term for the incumbent.

The Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition supports career officials who lead these planning efforts by organizing the Agency Transition Roundtable: a forum for all agencies, large and small, to talk about how to prepare briefing papers, manage personnel onboarding and offboarding, and execute other work necessary to prepare new agency leaders to govern. The content is based on our Agency Transition Guide and serves to complement the government-run Agency Transition Directors Council.

How government manages agency transition 

The Presidential Transition Act requires that the White House and General Services Administration convene an Agency Transition Directors Council to coordinate transition efforts across agencies. The council meets regularly starting in May of a presidential election year and is comprised mostly of representatives from large Cabinet-level agencies, usually the agency’s transition director. Agencies that provide important services during a transition, such as the Office of Government Ethics and the National Archives and Records Administration, are also core participants. 

The council is co-chaired by the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget and the federal transition coordinator from the GSA, who communicate guidance from the administration. Amendments to the Presidential Transition Act in 2019 require that members of the council be senior career staff, reflecting the important role of the civil service in providing continuity of knowledge and experience across administrations.  

What do agency transition directors do?  

Agency transition directors are formally named by May of an election year. They serve a crucial leadership role in organizing activities that represent their agency well to both current and potential future leaders. They coordinate briefings on how the department operates, how policies have been implemented and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead for the agency. If an election produces a change in administration, the director is the first point of contact with the winning candidate’s transition team, and the agency team’s output is critical to providing incoming federal leaders with the information needed to govern effectively. 

The impact of the Agency Transition Roundtable 

In each election cycle since 2016, the Center for Presidential Transition has partnered with the Boston Consulting Group to hold regular meetings of the Agency Transition Roundtable to supplement the efforts of the Agency Transition Directors Council. The roundtable is designed to promote knowledge-sharing, collaboration and best practices in the following ways: 

The first Agency Transition Roundtables for this election cycle kicked off in early 2023 with more than 110 individuals from over 60 agencies in attendance and will continue regularly throughout 2024.  

Agency transition leaders play a crucial role by preparing incoming leaders and providing continuity during a transition period, regardless of the outcome of the presidential election. By Election Day in November 2024, agency transition directors and their teams will have spent significant time conducting a thorough review of every aspect of their agency. They are uniquely positioned to understand the challenges their agency faces and can continue to play a major role in the success of the agency’s mission even after their official duties as transition directors end. 

Nearly half of political agency leaders leave within the first six months of a second term

While planning for presidential transitions is most often associated with candidates running to be a first-time president, incumbents seeking re-election must also engage in transition planning for a second term. 

Recent administrations have tended to view a second term as a continuation of the first as opposed to an opportunity to transition to a new administration with refreshed goals, improved processes and new leadership. As Josh Bolten, President George W. Bush’s chief of staff, said, “Every two-term presidency has had the same problem, which is the president doesn’t think of it as a transition.” 

A major reason to plan ahead is that incumbent presidents should expect high levels of turnover among  top political appointees. In fact, for recent two-term administrations, almost half of top agency leaders leave soon after a re-election victory. Presidents running for a second term should seek to retain top talent whenever possible and identify replacements prepared for the arduous Senate confirmation process.

Data compiled by the Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition shows that for the last three two-term presidents, an average of 46% of their top Senate-confirmed officials serving on Election Day left their jobs within the first six months of the second terms. These include Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries and undersecretaries. On average, 11% of those serving on Election Day resigned their positions even before the re-elected president’s second inauguration, while 31% were no longer serving within three months into the second term.  

Turnover is generally high at the Cabinet level. During the period between the election and the early months of the second term, five Cabinet secretaries left the Clinton administration, nine departed the Bush administration and seven left the Obama administration.

The need to plan for a transition to a potential second term 

Agency leaders leave for a variety of reasons, whether to accept new opportunities or because the president wanted a change in leadership. However, high turnover among top officials decreases institutional knowledge and has the potential to make long-term, transformational changes more challenging for an agency or administration. 

While many presidents have accomplished signature priorities in the first year, in part because of effective transition planning, fifth years have not been nearly as productive. Previous second-term presidents have missed opportunities for early victories because most have minimized the need for advanced planning. 

Effective second term transition planning can change turnover challenges into opportunities. Four additional years in the White House offer a chance for a recalibration led by individuals with renewed energy and original ideas. “Newness is a good thing” and an opportunity to look for a “fresh perspective” according to Denis McDonough, who served in both terms of President Barack Obama’s administration. 

As Bolten and the Center’s advisory board summarized in 2020, “Every second term administration benefits from fresh eyes and fresh legs. Every second term president experiences significant turnover and an important policy window after the election. Therefore, effective planning is essential given the inevitable turnover, a Senate confirmation process which unfortunately is taking longer, and the fact that the fifth year of a president’s tenure typically provides a window for bipartisan policy development.” 

A second term offers a chance for a recalibration and a new start that requires serious preparation long before Inauguration Day. Even though it comes with great challenges, a second term provides the opportunity for a president to retain experienced leaders and bring in individuals with fresh ideas and new energy—should they plan accordingly. 

The next presidential election is less than a year away, followed by only 75 days before the inauguration. 

The short period between the election and the inauguration is not nearly enough time for a newly elected president to make plans to run the largest, most complex organization in the world, fill the more than 4,000 political appointments and harness a $6 trillion budget.  

It is also a short window for a second-term president to decide what changes to make based on lessons from their first term, and ensure both current appointees and new hires are ready to serve in key positions across the government. Data from the Center shows that for the last three two-term presidents, an average of 46% of their top Senate-confirmed officials serving on Election Day left their jobs within six months into the second term, a huge loss that should be anticipated and requires advance planning.  

That’s why any candidate running for president should start preparing to govern no later than spring 2024. While early planning was viewed as presumptuous a decade ago, presidential candidates and incumbents alike have come to embrace its value and importance.  

Today, outside organizations are already building policy and personnel plans to share with the eventual Republican presidential nominee. As an incumbent running for re-election, President Joe Biden has the opportunity to make every day count by engaging in planning for a second term. Early planning in 2020 helped Biden hit the ground running with more than 1,100 appointees and 17 executive orders on Inauguration Day.  

In addition, the law obligates a sitting president to prepare to hand over the reins of power in the event of an election loss, another huge and important task.  

It’s a tremendous amount of work for all involved. The good news is that the Center for Presidential Transition is here to help.  

Since 2008, the Partnership’s Center for Presidential Transition has been the leading nonpartisan organization working with presidential candidates’ teams, federal agency leaders, outgoing presidents and those seeking a second term to ensure that effective, peaceful transitions occur every four years.  

We are releasing new resources for the 2024 cycle, including: 

Beginning early next year, new episodes of the Center’s podcast, “Transition Lab,” will explore the connections between transition and democracy, and provide analysis of the 2024 transition. The Center also will continue to provide resources for prospective political appointees through its Ready to Serve program and training for new appointees through the Ready to Govern initiative.  

So follow along as the Center shares research, resources and expertise throughout the next year. The success of the next presidential transition will determine how prepared we are as a country to face the challenges of the modern world. It is in everyone’s interest to expect and advocate for an effective and peaceful presidential transition in 2024, regardless of who wins the presidency.

By Heather Yang Hwalek

This post is part of the Partnership’s Ready to Serve series. Ready to Serve is a centralized resource for people who aspire to serve in a presidential administration as a political appointee.

Part-time federal advisory boards, commissions and committees are important parts of the federal government that generally receive little attention. Joining one of these groups is a great way for experienced individuals to engage in public service even if they do not hold a full-time government position.

The Leadership Council on Women in National Security (LCWINS) recently hosted a webinar on the subject. Below are five important questions and answers that explain how interested people can seek out opportunities to serve.

  1. What are federal advisory boards and commissions?

Federal advisory boards and commissions are groups of subject matter experts convened by the executive branch to provide advice and recommendations to the president, agency heads, and other staff. There are roughly 1,000 boards or commissions across the government, and service is part-time and non-compensated. The Federal Advisory Committee Act is the controlling statute for the formation and administration of agency-level boards and commissions.

  1. How do I find what opportunities exist to serve?

There is no comprehensive list of all of these opportunities. LCWINS compiled a list of national security-related boards and commissions along with a FAQ document. The list was compiled primarily from the FACAdatabase.gov website and the White House’s Join Us page. Those interested in serving on a board or commission can start with a list of groups governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act that is overseen by the General Services Administration.

  1. How do I apply?

Different boards and commissions have different processes. Some are presidentially appointed and some are appointed at the agency level. Some take direct applications, some work through nominations and some are staffed through appointments that are less transparent. To express interest and gain support for any opportunities that interest you, it is important to reach out to relevant stakeholders and members of that board or commission’s “ecosystem.”

  1. What is it like to serve on one of these boards, commissions or committees?

During the LCWINS webinar, panelists highlighted that serving on a board or commission is an opportunity to provide advice to government decision makers and help inform policy from an outside perspective. Service is also an opportunity to connect with other subject matter experts in the field. Many boards and commissions have subcommittees whose membership is broader than the main body. Service on such a subcommittee is another way to get involved.

Serving on a federal advisory board or commission can be hard work and may require a security clearance (see form SF-86), vetting from the White House or a certification that a member has no conflicts of interest.

  1. Is it worth it?

Federal advisory boards and committees offer an opportunity for public service as an alternative to a full-time career or political appointments. The advice and recommendations of external subject matter experts strengthen policymaking. Those who have served in these positions endorse them resoundingly and say they are a great way to use one’s knowledge and experience to serve their country.

Heather Yang Hwalek coordinates the LCWINS webinar program and has a decade of national security experience with the federal government. LCWINS is an organization of women and allies from across the political spectrum working to advance gender inclusion at the highest levels of the U.S. national security and foreign policy workforce.

By Alissa Ko

This post is part of the Partnership’s Ready to Serve series. Ready to Serve is a centralized resource for people who aspire to serve in a presidential administration as a political appointee.

I could never have imagined that a daughter of immigrants who “accidentally” picked a career working on state issues and campaigns would ever end up in the White House as a presidential appointee.

Through hard work, luck and a decade in state-based advocacy and political campaigns in California, I was able to make the leap to Washington, D.C. People who have experience at the grassroots may be surprised to learn how well-prepared they are for working at the national level – and especially serving as presidential appointees.

Here are a few reasons why people with experience outside the nation’s capital are well-suited for a presidential appointment.  

You have experience seeing how government impacts communities 

Having a background on state and local issues provides a good perspective on how the government touches lives and communities every day. Your background can help shape policy because you understand the opportunities and challenges communities face. For example, if you currently work in health care, you have first-hand knowledge of the issues associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Your perspective and relationships can be helpful in shaping policy. 

Living in Washington, D.C., can mean you are far away from what is happening at the state or local level. That is why federal agencies have regional offices throughout the country to connect staff with the communities they serve. These outreach efforts would benefit from your on-the-ground experience. 

Local governments are the “incubators for innovation”

Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez called state and local governments the “incubators for innovations” because a wealth of good policy ideas originate there. Policies like paid family leave were approved by localities and states, and demonstrated that such reforms are possible and have been beneficial.

People who have worked on state and local issues can bring together policy expertise and coalitions on a wide range of subject areas. Shaping federal policies dealing the economic recovery, for example, can benefit from ideas that have worked at the local level. My previous experience helped me facilitate engagement between the federal and state governments.  

You know how to get things done

In any large organization, effective people are the ones who know how to get things done by managing and navigating systems. A person with success on a local campaign or in state government understands this well. Working in the federal government has a similar dynamic. For example, to implement an executive order or host a conference, you need to interact with numerous departments and understand many different processes. The ability to navigate a complex environment is something a person with political campaign experience understands.

Becoming an appointee is not an easy process. But even though you may not realize it, people with experience and knowledge earned at the state and local levels provide an important perspective and great value to the federal government. 

Alissa Ko is director of strategic giving and community engagement at Health Net. She served as a senior advisor at the White House during the Obama administration, leading outreach to states attorneys general, state legislators and the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

By Christine Mica

This post is part of the Partnership’s Ready to Serve series. Ready to Serve is a centralized resource for people who aspire to serve in a presidential administration as a political appointee.

Serving at the pleasure of the president is a huge responsibility. You are there to represent the administration and to support and defend the Constitution. As a new government employee, you will never forget the feeling of taking the oath of office for the first time. Not only is it humbling, but it should remain at the forefront of your conscience when making all future decisions.

Strict rules apply to all federal employees and can be tough to navigate. The following nine tips will help you avoid any ethics problems.

1. Be sure to fill out your ethics paperwork completely and correctly the first time. If updates or corrections are needed, do them immediately.

2. Be sure you know about the Hatch Act and all pertinent executive orders, like those banning outside income and gifts, and those outlining when you need to recuse yourself from certain matters.

3. When in doubt about actions you in intend to take, ask your agency ethics office. The ethics officials are there to provide answers to your questions.

4. Submit a truthful timesheet. Taxpayers do not pay for a late arrival to work due to traffic or if you decide to meet friends for a two-hour lunch.

5. Be mindful of accepting travel invitations, especially those that have you speaking in your hometown or in a location seen as a resort.

6. Use your work phone and computer for business only. When you have forgotten a birthday gift or need to make dinner reservations, make sure to use your personal phone and computer.

7. When the office of general counsel asks questions and encourages caution, do not take it personally. General counsels are your agency’s lawyers and exist to ensure laws and policies are carried out properly. When the general counsel is happy, your job is much easier. Knowing your work does not present any legal risk to the agency or the White House is crucial. Plus, the office of general counsel can help provide advice and solutions to keep your agenda on track.

8. Do not try to go around the office of general counsel. They always find out! The consequences of hiding pertinent information can be worse than being up-front and direct.

9. Prioritize requests from the office of inspector general. Inspectors general are responsible for ensuring agency policy is followed, that financial resources are used correctly and that no one is breaking the law. Requests for information from an inspector general should become a priority. The Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton Public Sector published a report, “Walking the Line: Inspectors General Balancing Independence and Impact” that can guide appointees on how to work appropriately with this office.

There are many ethics rules, so there is a lot to learn. You are responsible for following all ethics policies. No excuses are allowed. Remember, mishaps are not only personal liabilities to your professional career, but are also embarrassing for your office, your agency and for the president.

Christine Mica is a former educator and university administrator who worked as a chief of staff in the Office of Postsecondary Education at the Department of Education from 2014 to 2016. Mica currently serves as the chief operating officer at the National District Attorneys Association.

By Bishop Garrison

This post is part of the Partnership’s Ready to Serve series. Ready to Serve is a centralized resource for people who aspire to serve in a presidential administration as a political appointee.

The chance to work in a presidential administration is an experience like no other, offering a unique opportunity to serve the nation and its citizens.

From my experience in various positions during President Barack Obama’s administration, I gained insights into issues candidates should consider when deciding whether to pursue a political appointment. The following advice will help you decide if a presidential appointment is right for you.

Before accepting a position, ask yourself about your motivation to join and if now is the right time to serve.

An offer to serve your country can be one of the highest honors of an individual’s professional life. Securing such a position is a competitive process and can lead to more prestigious jobs in the future. However, there is a thin line between a true desire to serve and an interest in furthering your career. If you are offered a political appointment, make sure you are accepting it for the right reasons. Ensure it is the right fit for your own interests and career. You will need to give your all every day, so make sure it’s a position that can make you happy.

If you accept a position, seek out new challenges that may not have been part of your original career goals.

A presidential appointment will lead to opportunities for professional development and for learning new skills. When circumstances allow, seek out new challenges, especially ones you did not anticipate. Many of the best opportunities to grow will come from tasks outside of your primary responsibilities. It may be supporting a project in another directorate serving as an extra pair of hands or joining optional professional development sessions. There is no one true path to success, and exploring less obvious avenues will provide unexpected, yet rewarding experiences.

Prepare for difficult times and view them as opportunities to learn and grow.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “All work is admirable.” While Powell’s statement rings true, not every part of your job will be like the inspiring television episodes of The West Wing or Madam Secretary. There will be times of exhaustion and frustration, but they can be buoyed by the opportunity to accomplish important work and rebuild faith in our government. Meet with your career colleagues and learn from them. They can provide a wealth of knowledge based on their varied experiences. They understand these institutions intimately and what it will take to engage the public through smart, thoughtful policy and action.

The Bottom Line

Before accepting a political appointment, make sure you consider all potential factors that may affect you, such as personal motivation, work-life balance, financial concerns and the demands of the position. Many appointees do not think about these questions until it is too late, and they should play a role in in whether to accept a presidential appointment.

At the end of the day, however, serving in a presidential administration is an honor and a unique opportunity to make a difference. Whatever you choose, ensure it is the right decision for you.

Bishop Garrison served in various national security positions in the Obama administration and as deputy foreign policy adviser for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign. He is currently director of national security outreach for Human Rights Watch.

Editorial credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

By Bruce Andrews

This post is part of the Partnership’s Ready to Serve series. Ready to Serve is a centralized resource for people who aspire to serve in a presidential administration as a political appointee.

The opportunity to serve in a presidentially-appointed position in the federal government is a unique privilege and honor. For some positions, this means nominees must traverse the difficult Senate confirmation process before they can take office.

The confirmation process can be one of the biggest challenges a nominee will face in their lifetime. The process puts the fate of a highly accomplished individual in the hands of a Senate committee and a small group of staff, followed by the full Senate for a vote. Rarely do nominees depend so heavily on the judgment of others.

I had the opportunity to work on several sides of the process— first overseeing nominations for the Senate Commerce Committee as the general counsel, then helping nominees navigate the process as chief of staff of the Commerce Department, and finally working on my own nomination to be deputy secretary of Commerce. Here’s some advice for navigating the process.

Tip 1: Be honest

Nominees rarely know how intrusive the process will be and how deeply the background check and the committee will get to know them. In my experience, it is most important to be fully transparent and honest. It is always better to disclose everything, even embarrassing information, rather than be seen as untruthful or misleading.

Tip 2: Trust your team

Remember that confirmation is a team sport! Nominees need champions to build support and to work with potential critics.

The good news is that nominees have a confirmation team to help them. Trust the team. They are experts and their job is to help get the nominee confirmed. They are selected for their understanding of the process and have many resources to draw from.

Tip 3: Think about relationships

Prior to confirmation, nominees should catalogue their relationships and identify third party validators. 

When thinking about relationships, some key questions to ask include:

When I went through confirmation, I thought I would be fine with Democrats, but wanted to strengthen my support among Republicans. I was fortunate to have a group of well-connected Republicans who served as my “Shadow Confirmation Team.” They enthusiastically helped me by reaching out to key Republican senators, committee and leadership staff. Not everyone is as fortunate to have that kind of assistance, but all nominees will benefit from examining their own networks for potential help.

A crucial step in the process involves meetings with members of the Senate committee that has jurisdiction over the position you are seeking. These meetings may be with senators or their senior staff. They are the best way for nominees to introduce themselves, learn about the important issues from each committee member and earn their support.

Tip 4: Remember the hearing is part interview and part political theater

Next, the confirmation hearing will be scheduled. The hearing is not just an opportunity for the nominee to answer questions, but also for senators to impress on the nominee what they see as most important and show their constituents they are fighting for them. If senators want to spend three of their allotted five minutes talking about their positions, that is great. It is less time for the nominee to have to answer questions.

During my hearing, one senator asked me to come meet the fishermen in her state. I first suggested they meet with the regional official as instructed by my confirmation team. She then asked a second time, and I repeated the crafted response. On the third time she pressed me, I finally agreed to visit her state. (After the hearing, my eight-year-old daughter asked why I didn’t just agree when she asked in the first place.) After I was confirmed, my team reached out to her office to schedule a trip to meet with the fishermen, but her office never followed up.

Tip 5: Only answer the question that is asked

Many nominees want to show how smart they are. The most important thing is to listen to what the committee members are asking, and do not go beyond the question. Many nominees get in trouble by straying off topic.

I will never forget one hearing I staffed when a nominee violated this rule and tried to answer questions that were not asked to show the breadth of his knowledge. His responses raised concerns from several senators and led to an entirely new set of tougher questions. No one should want to be that nominee.

The confirmation process is not always easy, but it is a time-honored part of our democracy.  Serving your country is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it is important to respect the crucial role of the Senate in that process, and preparing wisely will increase the chance for a successful confirmation.

Bruce Andrews is managing partner at SoftBank Group and a former deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He also served as general counsel to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee.

By Jeffrey Neal

This post is part of the Partnership’s Ready to Serve series. Ready to Serve is a centralized resource for people who aspire to serve in a presidential administration as a political appointee.

Being offered a political appointment can be exciting. You have an opportunity to serve the public and the president, do meaningful work and make a difference. But after the excitement fades, it is time to get into the details, including one of the most important considerations for many people—the pay.

Salary is an important consideration for the majority of appointees, particularly those in Schedule C or noncareer Senior Executive Service positions. Does the agency have flexibility in setting your pay? Can you negotiate? How about pay raises or performance bonuses?

Agency flexibility in setting pay depends on the job. For many positions the answers are yes, they have options. Keep in mind that pay for political appointees is a political issue. That means an administration may choose not to use all the flexibility the law allows and that may limit your pay.

The government does not pay senior officials the kind of money typically found in the private sector. In the government, you may run a multi-billion-dollar program with thousands of employees and make less (sometimes much less) than $200,000 per year. You should also not be surprised if you receive a political appointment and have subordinates who make more than you. Career employee pay is much more controlled by statute and regulations, and is not connected to the pay of political appointees.

Political positions are listed in the Plum Book, which is published in late November or early December of a presidential election year. Here are the six most common types of political jobs and how their pay is set:

Executive Schedule Positions. These are the big jobs, such as Cabinet secretaries and other agency heads, deputy secretaries, undersecretaries and some assistant secretaries. The positions are listed in the PLUM Data as Pay Plan EX. Pay for these positions falls into one of five pay grades from I to V, with EX-I being the highest. There is no locality pay and there are no bonuses. The pay tables show a higher level of pay than what is payable for many jobs due to a political appointee pay freeze (see the pay table for details). There are instances when an Executive Schedule appointee in levels I — IV can get higher pay, but they are rare and require approval by the Office of Personnel Management and the White House.

Noncareer SES Positions. hese are senior positions that usually run major programs. The number is capped at 10% of the number of SES positions government-wide. Pay is listed in the PLUM Data as Pay Plan ES. Pay varies widely, starting at $131,239 and topping out at $197,300. Agencies have broad discretion on setting pay with White House approval typically required. There are some cases where pay can be set higher, such as in financial regulatory agencies or when an agency can get OPM and White House approval for critical position pay, but that is rare. Pay for these positions is often negotiable within the pay range. The time to negotiate is before you are appointed. Once you are appointed, big changes in pay are much harder to receive. The strongest case for your pay is one based on current pay. If you are in a job that pays $100,000 per year, it is unlikely an agency will pay you $197,300. Noncareer SES do not receive locality pay or bonuses.

Senior Level Positions. These positions are not SES positions, but are paid using the same pay scale. Pay is often negotiable within the pay range. The pay plan is listed in the Plum Book as SL.

Administratively Determined Pay Positions. These positions, designated in the Plum Book as Pay Plan AD, are in agencies with independent authority to determine the rates for any group or category of employees. Examples of AD political appointments are U.S. attorneys. Agencies must follow their unique statutory authority to set or adjust pay under an AD pay system.  Although there are AD positions where pay is negotiable, many are not.

Schedule C Positions. These comprise the largest number of political positions (about 1,400). “Schedule C” is a technical term that refers to the statutory authority for the appointment. Most Schedule C positions are paid using the same General Schedule or equivalent pay levels (including locality pay) that agencies use for their career workforce. Schedule C employees can be promoted. Step increases, bonuses and “quality step increases” (QSIs) are authorized by statute. Bonuses and QSIs are optional and have been restricted by administrations in prior years. You can negotiate pay and grade within reason, based upon your qualifications and salary history.

Boards and commissions. Many political appointments are as members of boards and commissions. Pay for those positions depends on many factors, including whether the position is full-time or part-time. Check the PLUM Data for more details on specifics.

The PLUM Data will contain more information on other, less common pay plans and types of positions. Keep in mind that the PLUM Data is published every four years and many positions are created at the discretion of the administration. The 2024 Plum Data includes positions that exist in the Biden administration. The next administration (whether the president is reelected or not) may choose to change many of the positions that are not mandated by statute.

Jeffrey Neal is the author of the blog ChiefHRO.com and previously served as chief human capital officer for the Department of Homeland Security.