August 07, 2017

Partnership for Public Service Addresses Management Challenges and Opportunities for President Donald Trump at the 200 Day Mark


CONTACT: Erika Walter





WASHINGTON – Today marks 200 days since President Donald Trump took the oath of office. During this time, Trump has prioritized government reorganization, laid out a management framework and promised to bring private sector technology advances to federal agencies. But the president has struggled to build cohesive leadership teams across government or work closely with the career workforce to accomplish his goal of improving agency effectiveness.


Since Trump’s 100th day in office, the administration established the American Technology Council, issued an executive order to strengthen federal networks’ cybersecurity and worked with Congress to introduce legislation modernize federal information technology and reduce wasteful spending on maintenance of legacy technologies.


“The Trump administration should be commended for seeking to modernize the way our government serves and interacts with the public,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “Success in this endeavor will require cross-agency collaboration, congressional engagement and leadership from the Office of Management and Budget to make it a priority.”


“It’s good news that several key political leaders are now in place across the federal government,” Stier added. “I applaud the Senate’s bipartisan efforts to fill these important leadership positions before recess. When political leaders are in place, the president can run the government more effectively, achieve his priorities and deal strategically with crises. Since only about 20 percent of Trump’s top appointees are in place, there is much more for the administration and the Senate to do, but these confirmations should be celebrated as good progress.”


On the personnel front, President Trump lags well behind all of his recent predecessors both on the number of people nominated for critical leadership positions and those confirmed. As of August 7, Trump has nominated 277 people out of the more than 1,100 positions requiring Senate confirmation, and the Senate has confirmed just 124 of those nominees. Today, the average time for the Senate to confirm an appointee is 54 days, a timeframe that also lags behind historic norms.


The unfilled jobs range across major departments, including the deputy director of management at OMB, to the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs and assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Here are the appointment counts for previous administrations at the time of the traditional August congressional recess:


  Nominated Confirmed “Failed” Average Days to Confirm
Obama 433 310 8 41
W. Bush* 414 294 (120) 35
Clinton 345 252 6 30
H.W. Bush 315 208 3 32

*On August 3, 2001, the Senate returned all of President George W. Bush’s pending nominations, as required by congressional procedure. It appears that most of these nominations were later re-submitted and confirmed. The Senate passed measures that prevented this from happening to Obama, Clinton and H.W. Bush.


Stier said the president and the Senate both share responsibility to swiftly fill these top positions. He urged the administration to identify and vet nominees quickly, and said the Senate must consider those nominations quickly so that the president can have his full leadership team in place.


The slow political appointments process is also negatively impacting the career federal workforce. At the 15 Cabinet-level departments, only about 20 percent of the key Senate-confirmed positions are filled, with the departments of Energy, Agriculture and Labor having less than 10 percent of critical leaders in place.


Here are the key Senate-confirmed positions by Cabinet-level that have been filled according to our appointments tracker with The Washington Post:


Trump Administration Department-Level, Senate-Confirmed Appointment Snapshot

(as of 8/7 at 8:30 a.m.)

Number of Tracked Positions Nominations Submitted to the Senate Percent of Positions Nominated Percent of Positions Filled
Department of Labor 14 3 21% 7%
Department of Agriculture 13 4 31% 8%
Department of Energy 22 5 23% 9%
Department of the Interior 17 7 41% 12%
Department of Education 15 3 20% 13%
Department of Transportation 18 7 39% 17%
Department of State2 131 46 35% 18%
Department of Justice 28 12 43% 21%
Department of Housing and Urban Development 12 5 42% 25%
Department of Defense 53 28 53% 28%
Department of the Treasury 28 13 46% 29%
Department of Homeland Security¹ 16 11 69% 31%
Department of Commerce 21 10 48% 33%
Department of Veterans Affairs 11 5 45% 36%
Department of Health and Human Services 17 14 82% 41%

Caveats: Nominations submitted to Senate includes nominations that have been confirmed or withdrawn. We track full-time, executive branch positions, excluding: career ambassadors nominated by President Obama and currently occupying a post, part-time positions, U.S. attorneys, and U.S. Marshals and termed positions that aren’t currently vacant. As termed positions and career ambassadorships become vacant, we update the tracker accordingly

¹John F. Kelly was confirmed to be the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, but then became the chief of staff of the White House, leaving the secretary role currently unfilled                                    

²John J. Sullivan received one nomination to fill two roles within the State Department. This is why the “Confirmed” and “Filled” counts are different.                                               

During the past 16 years, the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service has been dedicated to making the federal government more effective for the American people. We work across administrations to help transform the way government operates by increasing collaboration, accountability, efficiency and innovation. Visit to learn more.