Analysis of Appointments Pace at Year 1
Special Analysis on Women Nominations
The following figure describes the history of presidential nominations by gender during the first year. All differences are statistically significant. Democratic presidents over the past forty years have finished their first year nominating women to one-third of the available positions. Republicans average around one in five. President Trump’s nominations measure up to that average.
Headlines at Year 1
- Overall, President Trump’s performance continues to trail previous administrations by exactly three months. Despite special Senate efforts to confirm large numbers of nominees, President Trump has the fewest nominations and fewest confirmations in 40 years.
- Senate processing times (see explanation below) on vetting confirmations approximates the past three administrations: current Senate averaging around 105 days (up from 85 two months ago).
- On critical leadership positions, President Trump lags far behind President Obama’s pace.
Summary Numbers on Administration Pace
- Covers 980 appointed positions and 213 critical leadership positions requiring Senate confirmation and comparing them to expectations based on the previous three transitions.
Trump nominations begins to pick up while previous administrations long ago reached a kind of takeoff. The Trump administration continues to have the fewest nominations in 40 years. See Figure below.
Senate efforts to clear the backlog of nominations close in on average confirmation percentages but given the overall numbers of nominees, the administration’s confirmations continue trail other administrations. It’s the slowest performance on confirmations in 40 years.
|Critical Leadership Positions — the “Stand Up”: -62%
Current performance continues to lag far behind previous administrations on the most critical leadership positions. The slowest stand up of the critical government in 40 years.
|Breakdown of the “Stand Up” by Type of Responsibility (1/14/2018)
|Type of Responsibility|
|National Security||Management||Economic Policy|
Last Updated: 1/21/2018 @ 09:30 EST
See our Appointments page for more detailed information and projects out to the end of the first year.
The White House Transition Project documents the pace at which a new administration fills out the American executive branch through its appointments power. WHTP measures the pace of appointments in four ways.
- First, we track 980 presidential appointments requiring Senate confirmation (known as “PAS” positions). For these appointments, we track the pace of nominations and the pace of confirmations, measuring both against a projected historical average based on the three previous administrations.
- Second, on these 980 PAS positions, WHTP measures the differences between the vetting process in the White House and the process in the Senate to assess the contributions of each to the overall process. For the White House, we clock the time from an announcement that the president intends to nominate someone to the day that persons credentials show up at the Senate. This measures how long the Executive vetting takes. Then WHTP considers two separate measures of Senate deliberations. Both track nominations from the moment the Senate reports receiving credentials to the day the Senate makes a decision (confirm, deny, or return). WHTP reports that processing in two ways: a 10 day average for how long nominations received during that ten day period have taken (called “processing pace”) and a 10 day average for how long it has taken the Senate for nominations decided on during that period (called “processing time”). The first (pace) looks forward from the moment of nomination and the second (time) looks backward from decision points.
- Third, WHTP identifies and tracks a core of 213 leadership positions critical to the functions of government. These positions include those concerned with national security, managing the economy, managing the executive agencies, and carrying through on key agenda items. We believe that successfully filling out this second group of positions effectively “stands up” the American executive.
- Fourth, WHTP assesses the pace of fully standing up the critical leadership positions, including both presidential nominations and those already in place on inauguration day, using a direct comparison with President Obama’s performance.
WHTP reports these results every 10 days. See our Appointments page for more detailed information.
For the 2017 cycle, the White House Transition Project and our partners at Rice University’s Baker Institute and the National Archives have presented a series of conferences covering a range of issues associated with presidential transitions, including a conference focused on handling a confrontation in the South China Sea that resembles the actual conflict that is ongoing in this part of the world.
The White House Transition Project in coordination with our partners in the Moody Series on Presidential Leadership presents relevant content to professional and academic audiences. At our October 2016 event at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library we produced a live discussion panel simulation similar to the events that transpired in the South China Sea only weeks before. See how our expert panel managed the crisis scenario.