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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

This Is Why the Large Number of Political Appointees Are A Problem


So, Tim Geithner doesn't have a lot of people helping him out at the Treasury, and he's overstreteched. This is obviously a bad thing. A lot of the debate over Geithner's overstretch has focused on how the Obama administration got spooked by some early confirmation scares, and as a result, has moved far too slowly to fill some positions at arguably the most important department in government at the moment.

It's hard to argue that it's in any way a good thing that Obama hasn't filled a lot of key posts at Treasury. But that kind of misses the point. Obama shouldn't have to appoint that many people in the first place. There are far too many positions that the president has to fill personally that could be easily and competently done by career employees. Of course the president needs people who can implement his agenda and set policy. That's what department heads and a layer of political appointees immediately below him or her are for. But agencies and departments would be vastly better served by having high-ranking career employees bringing their institutional memory and experience to high-level positions in departments and ensuring that they can continue to function no matter how far along the president is in his vetting and appointments process.

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