Over the first 100 days of this new administration, we have watched along with many Americans the dozen Cabinet-level confirmation hearings, a rite of passage for each new presidential administration. These panels, unlike much of day-to-day action in Congress, capture the full attention of citizens and elected officials alike.
But it’s the top management posts below the secretary level that are the key to an effective and efficient government and those hearings aren’t nearly as high profile.
These same positions can shape how Americans view their government. And right now, polls show Americans are frustrated. A Gallup survey from the beginning of April asked what the biggest problem facing America is today. A plurality pointed directly to government, politicians and poor leadership. In fact, Americans haven’t been as negative about their leaders since the 2013 government shutdown and the only other comparable period is during the Watergate crisis. Much of the public’s angst stems from the feeling that government cannot function effectively.
Cabinet secretaries are the faces of the agencies they represent. In conjunction with the president, they set broad policies for the work of their department and act as its most prominent spokesperson. However, they do not generally manage the day-to-day operations.