The Partnership for Public Service tracks the progress of Administration hiring. There are over 1200 positions that require an OK from the US Senate. Many of these however are somewhat less significant such as commissions, even smaller ambassadorships. But the Partnership tracks what they consider to be key appointments that include number two and three cabinet positions as well as important agencies within cabinets and ambassadorships.
As of this week there are 559 vital Administration positions that require Senate confirmation. Of this total, the President has nominated only 63 with an additional 15 awaiting a formal nomination. Out of this total all of 39 have been confirmed. The 39 confirmed include the 15 cabinet heads and the 5 appointments that have cabinet status including OMB and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Looking at these same positions, at this point in the George W. Bush Administration (which was delayed due to the disputed election), 60 had been confirmed with a total of 177 having been nominated. In the Obama Administration, the total nominees were 219 with 130 confirmed.
The Cabinet at the top of the list of vacancies includes the State Department. It has 106 vacancies including almost all ambassadorships including those to our top allies as well as key policy divisions in State. The next up is Defense with 42 vacancies. For the Department of Health and Human Services there are 12 vacancies. These include the Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Surgeon General.
In many of these positions career people will be filling in but these professionals are not always in a position to make what are essentially political as well as policy decisions. In all likelihood, this will impact the Administration’s work with Congress as well as the ability of agencies to respond to grantees and others working with the federal government.