A year after his inauguration, Donald Trump still has yet to fill nearly two-thirds of the key presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions in his administration, according to data compiled by the Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post.
At the same times during their presidencies, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush had at least 100 more confirmations behind them than the Trump administration currently has.
In the IT space, the post of federal chief information officer has remained vacant since Tony Scott, who was appointed to the post by President Obama in Feb. 2015, was not asked to stay on for the Trump administration. The role of federal chief information security officer, first filled by Brig. Gen. Gregory Touhill in Sept. 2016, has also remained vacant since Trump’s inauguration.
And though the president only appoints a few of the federal government’s agency CIO positions, he has yet to do so for those holding the role at Veterans Affairs and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The president has far larger responsibility for nominating chief financial officers in the federal government, and eight of the total 17 positions requiring presidential appointment are still unfilled and lacking nominations.
Just two days prior to Trump’s first full year in office, his appointee as chief of external affairs at the Corporation for National Community and Service, Carl Higbie, resigned amid reports that he made racist and sexist comments on the radio in 2013.
Recent research has encouraged career government employees to take advantage of the vacancies to take risks and create change within the agency, though some legislation, including the recently passed Modernizing Government Technology Act, relies on some appointed leadership to accomplish legally mandated changes.
In addition to appointees, the Trump administration has struggled with high-level resignations and firings emptying additional positions: Tom Price resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary after a scandal over misusing government travel, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly resigned to become the President’s chief of staff and FBI Director James Comey was fired amid his agency’s investigation into Russian hacking in the U.S. presidential election.
The three positions have since had personnel appointed, with two confirmed by the Senate so far.
The Trump administration has also faced issues with agency advisory boards, with 10 of the 12 U.S. National Park Service advisory board members most recently resigning their posts. The Environmental Protection Agency also banned scientists from serving on their advisory boards in Oct. 2017 if those scientists had received money from an agency grant.
Trump’s chosen leaders have also had to address legal battles over their appointments, as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Deputy Director Leandra English has taken the Trump administration to court over the president’s appointment of Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney to temporarily lead the agency.
In addition to presidential appointees, career civil servants have also left the Trump administration in noticeable numbers, citing discontent with this administration’s policy and direction.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.