Vacant positions and high turnover across the federal bureaucracy have been a perpetual problem since President Trump was sworn into office. Upper-level Trump administration officials (“the A Team”) have experienced a turnover rate of 85 percent — much higher than any other administration in the past 40 years. The struggle to recruit and retain qualified candidates for key leadership positions in agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Council, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have resulted in disruptive leadership vacuums that hamper the government’s ability to plan for and react to crises. The consequences are now on full display as the administration struggles to respond to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the nation.
On April 29, Governance Studies at Brookings hosted a webinar to discuss how widespread federal vacancies affect government response and accountability during crises like the coronavirus pandemic.
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