Many Key Positions Remain Vacant

Around the 200 day mark of the Trump administration, a number of positions important to federal employees remain vacant with no indication of when they may be filled.

The withdrawal of George Nesterczuk, a long-time Republican official involved with federal employment issues, to become director of OPM leaves the White House needing to find a replacement to head that agency, which has been run by acting directors for two years. OPM has not had a deputy director since 2011. The White House has nominated former GSA and Heritage Foundation conservative think tank official Michael Rigas for that position, but it is unlikely that a deputy director would be confirmed before a director, and no name to replace Nesterczuk has emerged.

The Office of Special Counsel also is being headed by an acting director, as is the Office of Government Ethics. A nominee for the former position is pending–Henry Kerner, a former investigator for Capitol Hill Republicans and an official with the Cause of Action advocacy group–but none for the latter.

Meanwhile, the three-member MSPB has had only one sitting member since January, leaving it unable to decide appeals of rulings by the agency’s hearing officers; no nominee has been named for either of the openings. The FLRA has two members but one of them, Patrick Pizzella, has been nominated to become deputy secretary of Labor and if he is confirmed that agency also would be left unable to issue decisions pending confirmation of at least one more member.

President Trump meanwhile has filled the Federal Services Impasses Panel with seven appointees, not needing Senate confirmation. That board decides whether bargaining proposals that have hit a deadlock are negotiable. All of the appointees have backgrounds working for conservative organizations and/or during past Republican administrations.