The 2016 'Plum Book' Lists Thousands of Jobs Up for Grabs in the Trump Administration

President-elect Donald Trump President-elect Donald Trump Evan Vucci/AP

The federal government on Monday published its quadrennial “Plum Book,” a listing of all the presidentially appointed jobs across executive and legislative branch agencies.

Formally known as U.S. Policy and Supporting Positions, the physical book and its digital version spell out more than 9,000 positions across government including Senate-confirmed, Schedule C and Senior Executive Service jobs. The list, published by the Government Publishing Office, traces its roots back to 1952 during the Dwight Eisenhower administration. That year marked the first presidential transition involving a party change in 22 years, GPO said in announcing the latest Plum Book edition, and the Republican Party requested a full accounting of the jobs Eisenhower could fill. The book has been published every four years since 1960.

The more than 9,000 positions listed in the 2016 version mark an increase since 2012, when just north of 8,000 positions were included, and 2008, when around 7,000 jobs appeared. Nearly half of the positions are SES, most of which are filled by career employees whose jobs are not likely to become subject to political appointment. The Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition, and the Trump transition team, have identified about 4,100 jobs that will need to be filled in the coming months.

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About 1,200 of those are agency leaders who will be appointed by President-elect Trump and require Senate confirmation. Trump will appoint an additional 350 employees -- largely White House staff -- who will not require Senate confirmation. The administration will also have to fill about 1,400 Schedule C positions who serve at the pleasure of their agency head and generally work in a confidential or policy role. The remaining jobs that will need filling are non-career senior executives, who can legally make up to 10 percent of the SES workforce.

The White House’s Office of Presidential Personnel has primary responsibility in selecting candidates. As reported by Government Executive contributors G. Edward DeSeve and Mark Abramson in April, agencies can suggest a candidate, but the individual must still be approved by OPP. The Office of Personnel Management must approve all SES appointments and will ensure the non-career designations do not exceed 10 percent of the overall senior executive workforce. Selected officials must fill out numerous forms, in many cases including financial information. They will all be vetted by lawyers working with Trump’s OPP and some will receive a background investigation from the FBI.

The Plum Book’s digital app allows job seekers to browse by branch, agency, job title, location, appointment type, pay plan and level, and tenure. The physical copy is available for purchase for $41, while the digital version can be downloaded for free. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee had the formal role of unveiling the book this year.

“The Plum Book is an important government resource, especially as the presidential transition takes place,” said committee chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and ranking member Tom Carper, D-Del., in a joint statement. “This publication will prove helpful to anyone interested in pursuing public service in the executive branch of our government.”

Trump’s team is already vetting candidates for positions; transition officials told The Washington Post more than 65,000 individuals have applied for jobs on the GreatAgain.gov website. 

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