How Presidential Appointees (or Lack Thereof) Matter

Journal of Public Policy

appointment_onpage Source: americanprogress.org

By William Resh (@billresh), University of Southern California

As Gary Hollibaugh, Jr. and colleagues plainly stated on the LSE blog, “Presidential appointees matter.” Of course, this is of little question when these positions are filled. Incompetent appointees cause deleterious consequences for both citizens and presidents. But, what about those positions reserved for Senate-confirmed presidential appointees (PAS) that remain empty?

A report last year by Pro Publica grouses that the Obama administration has been subject to more vacancies than previous administrations—in both independent and executive branch agencies (see Figure 1). Yet, occupancy is often legislatively required in independent commissions and agencies before agency action can be triggered. Therefore, outcomes (or a lack thereof) are easier to identify during periods of vacancy in those positions (at least anecdotally), whereas the effects vacancies have on agency performance in executive branch agencies generally may be less evident. The…

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About billthebureauphile

William G. Resh is an assistant professor at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He is a public management and policy scholar whose research focuses on executive politics, organizational behavior, personnel policy, and administrative rulemaking.

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