The broken appointment process


Update: Included a clarification below. The story about Sen. Bond’s hold on Martha Johnson’s nomination has changed; he’s now reportedly delaying the nomination because he wants the government to approve a $175 million federal office building in Kansas City, according to the Kansas City Star.

Original post: The New York Times has a story this morning about the political appointment process, pointing out that just 43 percent of the Obama administration’s senior political positions have been filled:

While career employees or holdovers fill many posts on a temporary basis, Mr. Obama does not have his own people enacting programs central to his mission. He is trying to fix the financial markets but does not have an assistant treasury secretary for financial markets. He is spending more money on transportation than anyone since Dwight D. Eisenhower but does not have his own inspector general watching how the dollars are used. He is fighting two wars but does not have an Army secretary.

I think it’s fair to say this has less to do with anything the Obama administration is (or is not) doing, and more to do with institutional dysfunction in the Senate and the sheer number of political jobs. Obama has, in fact, nominated an Army secretary; he named John McHugh to the post back in June. Senators have delayed his confirmation. His nominee for GSA administrator, Martha Johnson, is reportedly being delayed in the Senate because Sen. Kit Bond wants a federal building approved in Kansas City.

And, as the Times notes, he has some 500 senior policymaking posts to fill — not including thousands of other Schedule C jobs, ambassadorships and the like.


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