President Donald Trump was already far behind in staffing his administration, and then he fired his secretary of state.
In tapping his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to replace outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump set up two fresh confirmation battles to restaff his Cabinet -- when experts say he still hasn't gotten through his first wave.
At the end of his first year in office, Trump lagged far behind his most recent predecessors in both nominations and confirmations. He trailed President Barack Obama by more than 150 nominations and confirmations, and President George W. Bush by nearly 250 nominations and 200 confirmations.
Acting officials are rife throughout government, as career officials serve temporarily in top positions.
Trump has said he is leaving positions open in an effort to cut government, but experts say that is misguided, as the positions are filled instead by acting staff who are not in a position to change policy. He's also blamed Democrats -- the minority party in the Senate -- charging they've dragged their feet on his nominations.
Max Stier at Politico:
During the first nine months of 2017, 79,637 federal employees either quit or retired, compared with 56,036 who left the government during the first nine months of 2009 when Obama was president, a difference of 23,601. Those departing since Trump took office include more than 800 employees from the EPA, about 100 of whom are scientists, and about 12 percent of the State Department’s foreign affairs specialists.
And the government these individuals are leaving behind isn’t getting any younger. The data for fiscal 2017 show that just 6 percent of all full-time federal employees were between the ages of 20 and 30 compared with 21 percent of all employees in the private sector, a statistic that does not bode well for the future of the career federal workforce.