“Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda,” notes Peter Baker in a New York Times story, “Obama’s Team Is Lacking Most of Its Top Players.”
He goes on to say: “Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled. . . . ” He notes that Obama is trying to fix the financial markets but has no assistant secretary for financial markets. He is fighting two wars but has no secretary of the Army, and is holding a summit on nuclear nonproliferation but has no assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation.
Dr. Terry Sullivan, executive director of the White House Transition Project, told Baker “If you are running G.M. without half your senior executives in place, are you worried? I’d say your stockholders would be going nuts.”
Baker also describes how there is more progress in putting officials in place than in other recent administrations and how the finger-pointing for the slow pace is “being freely passed around” between the executive and legislative branches. The White House personnel office offers a higher count of appointees; other sources (such as the Washington Post’s Head Count website) offer lower counts, depending on what positions are included or excluded from the counting.
In a separate story, Chris Dorobek describes how the confirmation of Martha Johnson as administrator of the General Services Administration is being held up in the Senate. He offers several reasons that are bipartisan in nature: Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is mad at GSA for discouraging government conferences in resort locations, like his home state city of Las Vegas, and Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) is blocking action because he wants a federal office building built in Kansas City. . . . meanwhile GSA has no top leader while the agency is facing an historic challenge to effectively manage a 1,100 percent increase in its spending for the coming year under the Recovery Act.