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The White House Correspondents’ Association is very happy to announce that it will present The President’s Award to presidential scholar Martha Joynt Kumar at the association’s annual dinner on Saturday, April 28.

The President’s Award honors exceptional service to the WHCA. It is being given on the recommendation of association president Margaret Talev and the approval of the association board.

“Martha is a treasure to White House correspondents — an incredible resource who is uniquely accessible in real time because of her regular presence in the briefing room and press workspace and her ongoing discussions with the administration,” Talev said. “When covering a president who prides himself on upending the status quo and leaving his own mark on traditions, it’s especially valuable to have Martha’s expertise to help put his words and actions in context with past administrations.”

Martha Joynt Kumar is a scholar of the presidency and the press who has spent two decades recording and analyzing the relationship between journalists and the White House.

She has been of great service to members of the White House Correspondents’ Association with her unique statistics on how often journalists get to question the president. She is frequently quoted in news stories in all media. Her authoritative records are used by the association in its work to gain access to the president and administration officials.

Martha represents that special bridge between the “first draft of history” that we do and the presidential- and executive-branch historians who put our work into context.

She is the author of “Managing the President’s Message: The White House Communications Operation” and several other books and articles on the way the press and presidency work. She is an emeritus Professor in the Department of Political Science at Towson University, director of the White House Transition Project, and a board member of the White House Historical Association. READ MORE

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Special Analysis of the Pace of Appointments

This special analysis temporary replaces our normal analysis. It concentrates on the pattern of deliberations across the entire appointments process, all four stages, rather than the central focus of most press reports and most scholarly research which is the deliberations on nominees only in the Senate. Remember in reading these statistics that the pace of deliberations in each stage represents only one aspect of the appointments process. The pace of nominations or the throughput at each point along the way also affects how quickly the government stands up to meet its national responsibilities.

Brief Headlines on Pace of Nominations

  • 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.
  • On critical leadership positions, President Trump lags far behind President Obama’s pace.

Brief Headlines on Pace of Deliberations

  • Overall, the largest part of delayed deliberations occurs in the executive branch. On average about 75% of the time between the occurrence of a vacancy and the final Senate disposition of a nomination for that position occurs in the Executive search and vetting processes. President Trump’s executive deliberations amount to around 73% or very near the average for all previous presidencies.
  • President George H. W. Bush’s administration represents the inflection point in lengthening deliberations. For example, the increase in Senate deliberations in the Bush ’41 administration amount to a 9 point increase over that of the Reagan presidency just six years earlier. The Trump experience amounts to another 10 point increase over the HW Bush experience – a 10 point increase in nearly 30 years.

Pace of Deliberations (critical positions) – as of 4/29/YYYY (end of 2nd 100 days)

This table covers those positions that WHTP considers critical to the national government meeting its critical responsibilities. (See below and our appointments page for a description)

Locus of Deliberations
President WH
Identifies
Exec
Review
Sen Comm
Vetting
Sen Floor
Process
Avg
Length
Avg
Senate
% of Total
in Senate
Reagan 171 30 17 3 221 20 9%
HW Bush 171 31 39 4 245 43 18%
Clinton 182 39 37 6 260 39 15%
W Bush 153 35 37 7 233 45 19%
Obama 177 17 42 16 252 58 23%
Trump 232 19 57 42 351 100 28%

Pace of Deliberations (all positions) – as of 4/29/YYYY (end of 2nd 100 days)

This table covers all those positions that WHTP tracks. The numbers do not include most ambassadorships, US Attorneys, Military Officers, and US Marshals. WHTP considers these to execute policy not make it. (See below and our appointments page for a description)

Locus of Deliberations
President WH
Identifies
Exec
Review
Sen Comm
Vetting
Sen Floor
Process
Avg
Length
Avg
Senate
% of Total
fr Senate
Reagan 260 28 25 3 316 28 9%
HW Bush 260 23 52 4 339 56 16%
Clinton 248 32 45 6 331 51 15%
W Bush 230 29 55 7 322 63 20%
Obama 267 10 53 22 353 75 21%
Trump 307 10 66 34 417 100 24%

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.

MoodyBanner_ScaledFor 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.