January 23, 2017

Partnership for Public Service Outlines Critical Steps for Trump Administration in First 100 Days

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump and his administration should make government management–not just policy–a top priority during his first 100 days in office, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.

As the nation’s new chief executive, Trump is now responsible for managing the largest, most complex organization on the planet – the federal government, a four million-person civilian and military enterprise with annual spending of almost $4 trillion. He also needs to make 4,000 political appointments, including naming about 1,100 individuals requiring Senate confirmation who will hold important leadership jobs throughout the government.

It is critical for Trump to get his top 100 departmental and agency leaders chosen, thoroughly vetted and confirmed by the Senate as quickly as possible to ensure the effective operation of the government.

“Getting the people piece right isn’t easy or glamorous. It’s a complex and difficult task,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, which runs the Center for Presidential Transition. “But success for the new administration will depend on having well-qualified, well-prepared leadership teams in place across the government to manage a long list of critical domestic, economic and national security challenges.”

Historically, the appointment and confirmation process has been slow and has required more time and attention than anticipated; as a result, administrations have been plagued by long-standing vacancies that have impeded government effectiveness. So far, only 2 leaders of Trump’s Cabinet are confirmed, in comparison to the Obama and George W. Bush administrations who each had seven leaders confirmed on Inauguration Day.

“The transition was about the Trump team getting ready to govern,” said Stier. “The real test of governing starts now for the new administration.”

During the first 100 days, the Partnership recommends that Trump:

  • Quickly appoint leadership teams: While President Trump has named more than 25 percent of his top 100 agency leaders, he needs to move quickly to create a diverse and qualified leadership team to support each of his Cabinet secretaries. This means selecting, vetting and winning Senate confirmation for deputy secretaries and other senior leaders who will be critical to effectively deliver services to the American people.
  • Prepare his team to succeed: Political appointees who are new to government will face unexpected challenges–from working with three concurrent budgets in the first year of an administration to managing a career workforce during a time of transition. To help them succeed, Trump should institute clear decision-making processes for his leadership team, establish clarity of responsibility and ensure his appointees are equipped to operate in the unique federal environment.
  • Build a constructive relationship with the federal workforce: People are the most important ingredient for success in any organization. Trump should communicate his administration’s priorities to the federal workforce and let them know they are vital to achieving this vision. Joint teams of political appointees and senior career executives should be formed at the agencies and departments to drive the administration’s priorities and manage operations.
  • Implement a comprehensive management agenda: Government is big, complex and fragmented, and navigating this enterprise requires a management roadmap that can turn the president’s agenda into accomplishment. Inattention to government management has consequences, and history has shown that there is a heavy political price to pay when things go wrong. Creating a management agenda and making it a priority will be critical to the success of the Trump administration.
  • Assume big problems require agencies to work together: None of today’s challenges, from immigration to cybersecurity, can be solved by any single agency acting alone. The new administration should act quickly to build cross-agency teams on priority issues so the government can operate as a one organization, not as separate fiefdoms with overlapping jurisdiction and duplicative programs.
  • Engage Congress proactively: There is a pervasive sense that those running executive branch agencies and those serving in Congress often live in parallel universes. In order to accomplish his goals, Trump and his team must develop and build working relationships across the aisle to improve understanding, build trust and solve problems.

The Partnership’s Center for Presidential Transition is designed to help presidential candidates navigate the transition process, prepare political appointees to lead effectively and work with the outgoing administration to encourage a smooth transfer of power.

For 15 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.