Appointee Watch: Border Patrol Chief Named as Record Vacancies Continue

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 31. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 31. J.Scott Applewhite/AP

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan announced Thursday that he has appointed Carla Provost to be the new permanent chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Provost is a 23-year veteran of the Border Patrol, and has been serving as its acting chief for more than a year. She is the first woman to lead the agency.

But experts say that more than a year and a half into the Trump presidency, the president continues to set records for the number of key agency leadership vacancies. Observers said that although the White House has improved its vetting and nomination process over the last year, it remains the slowest administration in 40 years for appointments that require Senate confirmation.

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The blame is not entirely on President Trump, however. The Senate confirmation process has taken an average of 89 days, 10 days longer than the average for nominees during the Obama administration.

According to the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, who have tracked more than 600 key posts requiring Senate confirmation, 347 Trump nominees have been confirmed to their posts. Another 173 appointees have been named or formally nominated, while 166 positions remain vacant.

In recent days, Trump has named the following people to key agency jobs:

Agency for International Development: Richard Parker, associate administrator for legislative and public affairs. Parker is vice president of external affairs at Project Concern International, a humanitarian nonprofit. He was previously director of communications at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and director of communications for the Peace Corps.

Agriculture: Scott Hutchins, undersecretary for research, education and economics. Hutchins is the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience, a subsidiary of DowDuPont.

Commerce: Thomas Gilman, assistant secretary and chief financial officer. Gilman is former chairman and CEO of Chrysler Financial, and president and CEO of Toronto Dominion Bank’s North American automotive finance business.

Steven Dillingham, Census director. Dillingham is currently the director of the Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning at the Peace Corps. He also has served as director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Bureau of Transportation.

Energy: William Cooper, general counsel. Cooper is the senior counsel and director of the Washington, D.C., law firm McConnell Valdés. He previously was staff director for the House Natural Resources Committee’s Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee. He also was senior policy advisor on the National Environmental Policy Act for the House Natural Resources Committee.

Homeland Security: Christine Ciccone, assistant secretary for legislative affairs. Ciccone is a senior advisor at the Homeland Security Department. She previously was a senior advisor and deputy chief of staff at the State Deparment. Before joining the executive branch, Ciccone was a staffer for then-Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., and as general counsel and appropriations clerk for multiple committees.

Ronald Vitiello, assistant secretary for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Vitiello is deputy director of ICE, and serves as the agency’s acting director. He previously was acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration: James Morhard, deputy administrator. Morhard is the Senate deputy sergeant at arms. He previously was staff director of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and he has served in the secretary of the Navy’s Office of the Comptroller.

State: Carol Perez, Foreign Service director general. Perez is the ambassador to Chile and a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. She previously was principal deputy assistant secretary in the department’s Bureau of Human Resources and principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Mary Taylor, assistant secretary for legislative affairs. Taylor is the senior advisor in the State Department’s Office of the Counselor. Last year, she was a special assistant to President Trump for legislative affairs. She previously served in a number of roles for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Earl Miller, ambassador to Bangladesh. Miller is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and has been a diplomat since 1987. He has been the ambassador to Botswana since 2014.

Judy Reinke, ambassador to Montenegro. Reinke is the most senior member of the Commerce Department’s Foreign Commercial Service, where she has served for more than three decades.

Kevin Sullivan, ambassador to Nicaragua. Sullivan is the deputy permanent representative to the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States. He previously was deputy chief of mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Malawi.

Lucy Tamlyn, ambassador to the Central African Republic. Tamlyn has been a career diplomat since 1982 and currently serves as the ambassador to the Republic of Benin.

Donald Yamamoto, ambassador to Somalia. Yamamoto is the principal deputy assistant secretary in the department’s Bureau of African Affairs. He has served multiple Foreign Service tours in Africa, including as ambassador to Ethiopia and to Djibouti.

Adrian Zuckerman, ambassador to Romania. Zuckerman is a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, an international law firm.

Transportation: Joel Szabat, assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs. Szabat is deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Aviation and International Affairs. He previously was executive director of the Maritime Administration and chief of staff for the Small Business Administration.

Veterans Affairs: Tamara Bonzanto, assistant secretary for the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. Bonzanto is a health care investigator for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and a licensed registered nurse.

James Gfrerer, assistant secretary for information and technology. Gfrerer was most recently an executive director at Ernst and Young, where he served in the law firm’s cybersecurity practice. He was a U.S. Marine for more than 20 years, and has served as a Defense Department detailee to the State Department for counterterrorism and cybersecurity issues.

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