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As Government Shuts Down, Key Management Roles Remain Unfilled

Monday, January 22, 2018

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Washington, D.C.– After one year in office, the Trump administration lags well behind the two previous administrations in filling key agency management positions, according to Management Excellence Tracker data released today by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

As the federal government begins a rare partial shutdown this week, the lack of managers in federal agencies will only increase chaos and confusion and make restarting government functions after the shutdown significantly more difficult.

As of the one-year mark, the Trump administration has filled about 57 percent of the roughly 50 key positions BPC tracks, compared with 74 percent for the Obama administration and 80 percent for the George W. Bush administration. BPC tracks Senate-confirmable positions responsible for the management of large numbers of employees or budgets.

“The government cannot run effectively and efficiently without these managers and decision-makers in place,” said Matthew Weil, associate director of BPC’s Democracy Project. “And as we’re seeing this week, shutting the government down is more difficult and complicated without these roles filled as well.”

“One complicating issue for the Trump administration is that some key roles are being filled temporarily,” added Weil. “We don’t have clear information on who is filling each role in an acting capacity, but it is clear that having confirmed appointees in these slots would bring needed forward-thinking leadership that a temporary officeholder cannot provide.”

The Trump administration has been slower in nominating candidates for these positions, averaging 137 days after Inauguration Day, compared with 97 days for the Obama administration and 123 days for the George W. Bush administration. The Senate is also taking four weeks longer, on average, to move an individual from nomination to a final vote than for the previous two administrations.

“The Trump administration needs to do more to get nominees in front of the Senate for consideration, and the Senate needs to act faster to confirm nominees for these vital positions when presented with the opportunity,” said John Fortier, director of BPC’s Democracy Project.