Biden Administration Political Appointees: Who Fills Key Roles?

About this story

The tracker is maintained by the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan good governance organization. Researchers from the Partnership for Public Service track the actions of the President and Congress on about 800 top executive branch positions, a portion of the approximately 1,200 positions that must be approved by the Senate.

Which positions are included and which are not?

The tracker includes all full-time civilian executive branch positions that require Senate confirmation, excluding judges, marshals and US attorneys. Military appointments and part-time positions that require Senate confirmation are not included.

Biden has opted to leave some officials appointed by previous administrations in place. There are other officials who have been confirmed for specific periods during previous governments and continue to hold office because their term has not yet expired.

The tracker doesn’t show officials in acting capacity, so positions not filled by Biden aren’t necessarily vacant. All Presidents appoint some interim officials to Senate-confirmed positions to maintain continuity during the transition between one confirmed official and another. While acting officers for high-profile positions are often widely reported, temporary officers for lesser-known positions are often not publicly reported — or inconsistently.

The numbers in the tracker do not capture concurrent positions. For example, a nomination as Ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly and a separate nomination as United States Representative to the UN Security Council are considered a single nomination.

How often is the tracker updated?

The tracker is updated weekly on Mondays as positions are considered and filled.

How does the nomination process work?

Presidents formally nominate individuals to the Senate to fill each position, a responsibility established in the Constitution. The Senate refers most nominations to a specific committee responsible for the position. Committees review nominees and hold hearings to discuss their views, qualifications and background. After the hearing, the committees typically vote on whether to report the nomination positively, negatively, or without recommendation. Or they can vote to take no action on the nomination.

A nomination generally goes to the full Senate for a final vote if a majority of the committee votes in favour, but this is not required to get a final vote. Many nominations are approved through a unanimous consent agreement, which limits debate and expedites the process. For candidates subject to a vote, a simple majority is required to receive confirmation. The Senate has rules that allow individual senators to raise concerns about the nomination process.

Most nominations that go to the Senate are ultimately successful. However, some do not get a Senate vote, either because their nominations are withdrawn by the President or because the Senate calendar year ends before a vote occurs. By law, nominations not confirmed by the end of the year will be automatically withdrawn and the President must resubmit them for reconsideration at the next session of Congress.

Where does the information recorded in the assignee tracker come from?

Most information on Senate nominations and process comes from, the official website for information on US federal legislation. Information on Senate-approved positions generally comes from the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, known as the Plum Book, which is published by Congress every four years. However, each administration may add new positions and organizations or change position designations. The tracker will reflect these changes as they are published.

Information on resignations and informal announcements of appointments comes from publicly available sources such as news articles and government websites. The government does not publish a single, up-to-date source of information on the status of these positions. In some cases, public information about the status of specific officials or positions is contradictory or non-existent. The information provided in this tracker is based on the best publicly available details.

Is it possible that the tracker is missing a nominee or an update?

There is a slim chance. The Public Service Partnership and The Post have staff and processes dedicated to tracking nomination and confirmation developments. However, the federal government does not have a consistent method for reporting the employment status of appointees, and occasionally a change occurs with little or no media coverage. It is possible that changes will occur that have not yet been identified in the tracker, especially for lower profile positions. If you think something is missing that should be included, please contact


Research by Carlos Galina, Mary-Courtney Murphy and Anthony Vetrano. Research management by Paul Hitlin. Database administration and development by Mark Pruce. Previous posts by Zoe Brouns, Christina Condreay, Drew Flanagan, and Mikayla Hyman. Designed and developed by Harry Stevens, Madison Walls and Adrián Blanco. Edited by Kevin Watchmaker. Editing by Melissa Ngo. Biden Administration Political Appointees: Who Fills Key Roles?

James Brien

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