The federal government employs 2 million civilian workers nationwide, but many positions at the top of the food chain remain empty a year into the Trump presidency.
Of more than 600 key jobs filled by presidential nomination, more than half of them are currently vacant awaiting confirmation or have no nominee.
The announced departure of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe opens up another high-level government post, which is temporarily being filled by the number three ranking person at the FBI.
There are a 630 key positions appointed by the president and approved by the Senate, but many of those posts are still empty instead of being filled by people who run our government day to day, a full year into the Trump presidency, .
Of those 630 top jobs filled by presidential nomination, about 240 of them right now have no nominee.
Another 140 of those jobs have nominees still waiting to be confirmed by the Senate.
The agency heads and the second- and third-highest ranking jobs underneath do a lot.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration does not have an administrator, its top job, right now, nor anyone to head its legal, financial or enforcement divisions. That raises an obvious question about who is keeping roads safe.
That vacancy has left several new safety standards frozen.
The White House Drug Control Office, meant to work on the opioid crisis, not only has no director but it has seen several other appointees leave.
There is a long list of other federal job vacancies, including top spots at the Pentagon, the State Department, at the Agriculture Department, the offices overseeing national food safety.
At the Energy Department, several key nuclear oversight jobs are unfilled.
A change in federal law that went into effect just last year, to give presidents time to make nominations, allows a temporary acting replacement in these jobs, but only for 300 days.
Trump hasn’t made nominations for hundreds of the jobs, and the 300-day clock has run out, creating an unprecedented situation. People acting in these top jobs no longer have the legal authority to do them anymore.
Another reason for vacancies is that more workers are leaving.
The Washington Post reported more than 70,000 federal workers quit or retired in the first six months of the Trump administration. That is a 42 percent increase over the same period for President Obama.
Trump has fewer slots filled or nominated than any president in 25 years, but he does not see any of this as a problem.
“We don’t need all the people that they want,” said Trump. “You know, don’t forget, I’m a businessperson. I tell my people, when you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.”
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