For nearly two weeks the White House has been plagued by news reports surrounding former staffers and accusations of domestic assault. But even before that news broke, the administration had been no stranger to big personalities working at—and departing from—1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Below, we highlight a few charts and graphs from Brookings research on the nominations, confirmations, and turnover in President Trump’s administration.
TRUMP’S STAFF TURNOVER IS HIGHER THAN HIS FIVE PREDECESSORS
Governance Studies Nonresident Senior Fellow Kathryn Dunn Tenpas found turnover among Trump administration’s most influential staff to be “record-setting,” and “more than triple that of Obama and double that of Reagan.” Excessive turnover, Tenpas argues, portends problems, deprives the White House of the previous incumbent’s personal relationships, and may have a domino effect. The graph below illustrates the level of turnover across the first term for each of President Trump’s five immediate predecessors, as well as his first year in office.
A QUARTER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S AGENCY NOMINATIONS CAME FROM THE WASHINGTON, D.C. AREA
In a recent report, Anne Joseph O’Connell, the George Johnson Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, examined data from congress.gov and judicial nominations to the Senate to compare Trump’s progress in filling key agency positions to other previous administrations. O’Connell found that a little over 26 percent of Trump’s submitted agency nominations came from Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C. which is fewer than Presidents Obama, Bush 41, and Bush 43, but slightly higher than President Clinton.
TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATION HAD FEWER NOMINATIONS SUBMITTED AND CONFIRMED THAN HIS FIVE PREDECESSORS AT THE 100 DAY MARK
O’Connell analyzed Trump’s progress in making nominations and getting Senate confirmations at the 100 day mark as well. Then, she found that Trump’s administration was the slowest of the last six, but it did not lag too far behind the record of the George W. Bush administration. She also argued that the 100-day mark can be deceptive for several reasons, including the costly transition from campaigning to governing, and not a good predictor of future staffing.
Finally, O’Connell noted in a more recent article that George H.W. Bush is the only one of the five to follow an administration of his own party, and thus “faced less pressure to find his own leaders quickly as he could rely on President Reagan’s appointees.”