Appointments

Pace of Appointments Tracker
The White House Transition Project documents the pace at which a new administration fills out the American executive branch through its appointments power. WHTP tracks the pace of appointments in two ways. First, we track 991 presidential appointments requiring Senate confirmation (known as “PAS” positions). These appointments include top administration positions in all the cabinet agencies (e.g., the Deputy Secretary for Commerce), the top positions in the independent regulatory agencies (e.g., member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve), and the top positions in the myriad of government boards and commissions (e.g., member of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board). WHTP tracks the most important ambassadorships (e.g., Israel, UK, NATO, Russia, China) but we do not track US Marshals or most federal attorneys, though all these also require Senate confirmation.

Second, WHTP identifies and tracks positions critical to national policy-making. Based on recommendations from the National Commission to Reform the Federal Appointments Process, WHTP has identified 221 “time sensitive” government positions. These positions include all the leadership in government agencies, especially national security (e.g., Director FBI, Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing), economic management (e.g., Deputy US Trade Representative), critical management positions (e.g., General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs), or key to the management agenda (e.g., Deputy Director of OMB). Successfully filling out this second group of positions we argue “stands up” the American executive.

In both these analyses, we take the same approach. We compile data from the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations to build a model. The model generates a set of expectations about “average” performance on nominations, confirmations, and stand up. The model weights slightly more the performance of the Obama administration because the conditions in the most recent administration (numbers of appointments, the requirements of new administrative units, new laws, etc) more closely resemble those for President Trump. Then we compare what to expect from our model with the performance of the current administration. These comparisons generate “pace” measures that tells us whether the current administration exceeds or lags behind expectations based on the previous administrations.


Summaries from Appointments Analysis

Last Updated: 2/23/2017 @ 2AM EST
Pace of PAS Nominations
Tracking 991 PAS Positions
Pace of Stand Up
Tracking 221 Critical PAS Positions
To assess the pace of appointments in the Trump administration, WHTP models the past performance of the previous three administrations. This modeling builds a projection of what the Trump administration’s efforts should look like. Then, WHTP’s pace tracker compares the Trump appointments against that projections. To assess the pace of Stand Up, WHTP identifies the parallel critical positions in the three previous administrations and builds a comparison with the pace of Stand Up for the current administration. Note also, that since some PAS positions have “fixed terms” (e.g., Director FBI) some appointments will already have an incumbent in office when a new president comes in.

Pace Chart02-23Standup Chart 02-23

Pace of Nominations & Confirmations
Tracking 991 PAS positions
Pace of Stand Up
Tracking 221 Critical PAS positions
Pace of Nominations: —4.3%
Pace of Confirmations: —42.3%
Pace of Stand Up: —52.6%

Commentary:

President Trump Slightly Behind Expectations,
but Senate Remains Far Behind:

Commentary:

Much Slower Stand Up
The figure above summarizes both expectations based on predecessors’ performances (in green) and the performance of the Trump administration (in red).
Based on a weighted average from the previous three administrations (solid green line), the current projection for nominations equals 35 of the 991 positions. The Trump Administration ends its fourth week in office having nominated 33 of those PAS positions. Hence, its early performance (solid red line) has again dipped below that of the average for its predecessors.
The performance of the Senate, on the other hand, lags far behind the expectations (dashed green line) based on previous administration’s pending nominations (a backlog of 10). Currently, the Senate has held up almost twice as many nominations (dashed red line, and 19) as it had held up in previous administration.
At this point since the inauguration, the average administration would have filled about 12% of these 221 critical positions in the government (green bar in figure above). President Trump and the Senate has completed around 6% of the total necessary to stand up the government (red bar in figure). The Trump nominations for these time sensitive positions (at 29) falls about 20% below the expectation (37) while the Senate majority has confirmed less than a third of nominees (13) than at this time in the previous three administrations (35).
The current pace of nominations and confirmations puts the Trump administration 53% behind the average pace for filling these critical jobs.
Pace of Nominations: —4.3%
Pace of Confirmations: —42.3%
Pace of Stand Up: —52.6%
Last Updated: 2/23/2017 @ 2AM EST

For Questions or commentary contact: Terry Sullivan, WHTP, at sullivan@ibiblio.org or 919-593-2124