Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on August 24, 2009
With an unprecedented number of Obama-appointed czars in place (more than 45, I’ve lost count), the number of government top players appointed to established policy-making positions is way behind schedule.
Too many czars, far too few vetted program secretaries. It has many in DC puzzled.
Obama’s Team Is Lacking Most of Its Top Players
New York Times
By Peter Baker | August 23, 2009
WASHINGTON — As President Obama tries to turn around a summer of setbacks, he finds himself still without most of his own team. Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda.
Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled — a reflection of a White House that grew more cautious after several nominations blew up last spring, a Senate that is intensively investigating nominees and a legislative agenda that has consumed both.
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.
He sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Africa to talk about international development but does not have anyone running the Agency for International Development. He has invited major powers to a summit on nuclear nonproliferation but does not have an assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation.
“If you’re running G.M. without half your senior executives in place, are you worried? I’d say your stockholders would be going nuts,” said Terry Sullivan, a professor at the University of North Carolina and executive director of the White House Transition Project, a scholarly program that tracks appointments. “The notion of the American will — it’s not being thwarted, but it’s slow to come to fruition.”
Mrs. Clinton expressed the exasperation of many in the administration last month when she was asked by A.I.D. employees why they did not have a chief. “The clearance and vetting process is a nightmare,” she told them. “And it takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words.”
The process of assembling a new administration has frustrated presidents for years, a point brought home when George W. Bush received the now-famous memorandum titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike U.S.” eight years ago this month but still did not have most of his national security team in place when planes smashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
All parties vowed to fix the process, and Mr. Obama has a more intact national security team than his predecessor at this point. But even in this area, vital offices remain open. No Obama appointee is running the Transportation Security Administration, the Customs and Border Protection agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Mr. Obama still does not have an intelligence chief at the Department of Homeland Security, nor a top civilian in charge of military readiness at the Pentagon.
Mr. Obama is far enough along in his presidency that some early appointees are already leaving even before the last of the first round have assumed their posts. Among those who have left already is the person charged with filling the empty offices, Donald H. Gips, who quit as presidential personnel director to go to South Africa as ambassador last month.
The consequences can be felt in small ways and large — from the extra work for appointees on the job to the slowdown of policy reviews and development. For example, Mr. Obama’s promised cybersecurity initiative to improve coordination among government agencies and the private sector has stalled while he looks for someone to lead it.
“There’s every reason to be concerned,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader. “The president deserves to have his full complement of staff in the different agencies.”
Measuring the progress in appointments depends on what positions are counted and who is doing the counting. The White House Transition Project counts 543 policymaking jobs requiring Senate confirmation in four top executive ranks. As of last week, Mr. Obama had announced his selections for 319 of those positions, and the Senate had confirmed 236, or 43 percent of the top echelon of government.
No matter how the counting is done, though, hundreds of senior positions remain empty with 15 percent of Mr. Obama’s term over. While appointments linger, those jobs are generally filled with acting officials — and the White House says that has not slowed its ability to effect change.
Blame is being freely passed around. After several early nominees were discovered to have failed to pay some taxes, the White House tightened its vetting. The Senate Finance Committee has a former Internal Revenue Service official helping to go through many nominees’ taxes. And Republican senators are holding up nominees like John McHugh for Army secretary to influence what happens to the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The Finance Committee argued that fault lay elsewhere. Scott Mulhauser, a spokesman for the panel, said it had approved 14 of 16 nominees whose paperwork was received before July. But officials said the process had become so intrusive that many candidates declined to be considered.
“Anyone who has gone through it or looked at this process will tell you that every administration it gets worse and it gets more cumbersome,” Mrs. Clinton said last month. “And some very good people, you know, just didn’t want to be vetted.” She added: “You have to hire lawyers, you have to hire accountants. I mean, it is ridiculous.”
From happyscrapper’s comment on Michelle Malkin’s blog:
He has already vetted everyone he can think of and they all failed the stink test. That is why he has all those csars…they don’t have to go through the vetting. Most of the positions don’t have to be filled because he already has it covered by his csars. And meanwhile, the doofuses who voted for this guy continue to zone out on reality TV and think everything is just ducky. They won’t realize they have been screwed until they find out they aren’t getting their free plasma TV like obama promised.
And a comment from Marshall Russ:
This lack of appointees is a good thing when you factor in his radical leftist appointments so far.
Hot Air: Obama appointees: Plenty of empty seats, Plenty of thrones and Rattner’s exit prompted by probe? and Breaking: Car czar quits
A Blog for All: The Obama Administration Continues Incompetence In Filling Positions
The Powers That Be: Team Obama Only Half-Staffed, But It Already Feels Like America’s Taken the Full Staff
Just Americans Making Ethical Statements Weblog: Obama’s “Look Forward” Policy: AG Eric Holder begins Bush/CIA Witchhunt
Hip Hop Republican: Isaac Hayes – “Help Me Put and End to Corruption in Chicago”
The Anchoress, First Things: Equality of Opportunity or of Outcome?
Washington Examiner: Newt Gingrich: President Obama should fire Attorney General Eric Holder
JammieWearingFool: Another Great Vetting Job: Obama’s Car Czar Under SEC Investigation
Michelle Malkin: Republicans who voted to confirm Holder now complain about Holder and So much for the Greatest Transition in World History and Castro Watch: Walking Commie corpse appears on TV and Culture of Corruption: Czars of the Obama Underworld and The pay czar’s power grab and The Etiquette Czar’s Rules for Patriotic Protest and Obama summons his army: “This is the moment our movement was built for.” and The pay czar’s power grab and Support the Czar Accountability and Reform Act of 2009 and Meet the FCC Diversity Czar and The science czar stonewalls and Alert: Car czar Steven “Chooch” Rattner is leaving; probes intensify
Frank DeMartini, Big Hollywood: Big Government, Big Mistake
CNN Politics: Now hiring: Obama still needs to fill top jobs
Pam Geller, Israel International News: Obama Unmasked: 40 Czars Later
Balkinization: Further notes on our dysfunctional government
The Politically Incorrect Fish: The Beginning of the New American Oligarchy, First Edition
New York Times: Lack of Medicare Appointee Puzzles Congress
A Different Kind of Blog: Glenn Beck: America Senses Something’s Not Right
Frugal Café Blog Zone: “Green Jobs Czar” Appointed by Obama: Communist Van Jones and Obama’s Cyber Czar Hathaway Resigns… How Many Czars Do We Have Now in Obama’s Shadow Government? Still More Than Russia… and Nearing the Socialist Rat Hole… Obama’s Radical Past: Sean Hannity’s Disturbing POTUS Exposé (6-part video) and Obama: In the Face of Growing Failures, Says He Would “Do Nothing Differently” (video)
GayPatriot: Obama Promised Fiscal Discipline, Delivered Fiscal Recklesness, Lost the Good Will of the American People
Confederate Yankee: “The Obama Administration is the Most Fiscally Irresponsible in the History of the U.S.”
The Sundries Shack: Fool Us Once, Shame On Us. Fool Us A Dozen Times, You’re Barack Obama.
Matters of Truth: The Strange Case Of Dr. ObamaCare and Mr. HydeTheTruth
Romantic Poet: Alert! Obama Czar Count Now at 44 With 7 Positions Being Planned!
Hepsy’s Kuleana: Media’s Czars
The Anchoress, First Things: Science Czars & Healthcare; When Life is devalued…UPDATED
Steady Habits: Science Czar Holdren: Forced Abortions, Mass Sterilization, Planetary Regime
The Bald Chick: Is Obama’s Science Czar Still a Eugenicist?