March 16, 2016
Zach Piaker, Associate, Partnership for Public Service
Please note: the numbers below are from the 2012 Plum Book. Regarding Schedule C and Non-career SES positions, these numbers represent the total as of the summer of 2012. In December 2016, the Government Publishing Office released the 2016 Plum Book which lists more than 4,000 political appointments, of which more than 1,200 require Senate confirmation.
More than 4,000 political appointees, many of whom hold important leadership and policymaking positions, will be heading out the door next year with the change in administrations. Finding qualified people to fill these jobs is an enormous undertaking, but it is critically important to making the federal government work effectively for the American public.
There are four basic types of appointments:
Source: Plum Book, Government Printing Office, December
Among other things, the chart below shows high numbers of PAS positions in the State and Justice Departments. That’s due to the hundreds of ambassadors, U.S. Attorneys, and U.S. Marshals, all of whom require Senate confirmation. You can also see that nearly a third of the total number of PA positions are concentrated in the Executive Office of the President.
The scale and breadth of the task of making so many critical appointments is daunting, and underscores the need for transition teams to get started early in order to fully staff the leadership of the next administration.