Dr. Terry Sullivan, in his study, “Presidential Work During the First One Hundred Days,” analyzes the work schedules of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower through George H. W. Bush during their first 100 days in office. With 50,000 observations of 20,000 events over nearly four decades, the report takes on two tasks: describing the president’s workday and drawing conclusions about commitment, engagement, isolation, organizational choices, and effectiveness.
In an interview with Government Executive’s Michelle Williams, he says “it’s an easy standard to hold every president against, to compare every president to.” In this vein, several media outlets are monitoring “the first 100 days.” These include: BBC’s Obama Diary, CNN’s First 100 Days, and Huffington Post’s Obama’s First 100 Days.
Dr. Sullivan’s data, which took a number of years to compile from a variety of official records, shows that presidents experienced a 30 percent increase in their workdays since Eisenhower. His look at details, such as the amount of time on the phone, in one-on-one meetings, in groups, events, or on travel, showed interesting patterns between presidents during their first 100 days and, in some cases, dispelled some historical myths. For example, Reagan, not Nixon, was the most isolated. Sullivan also found that president’s with greater hierarchy in their operations had not only more productive work days but also had increased ranges of engagement with outsiders.
It will be interesting to see how future scholars rate the more recent presidents. They’ll have to add a new time-tracking category for President Obama – time spent on email and his Blackberry!