The White House has become something of a ghost town.
Of the 696 official positions in the Trump Administration, 661 have yet to be filled as of Thursday, according to a source close to the process. And the new administration has become so desperate for support staff that they’re hanging on to Obama Administration officials.
According to the Partnership for Public Service, key positions in all departments, from the Department of Justice to key Ambassadorships, to the Appalachian Regional Commission are still vacant, despite an imminent need to fill jobs and get to work.
So far, President Donald Trump has had only 12 nominees confirmed, while 23 await their Senate process. Most of these, though, are Cabinet secretaries, and there remain hundreds of positions assisting the Cabinet, providing financial oversight and general counsel services, and serving on commissions that require appointments and confirmations.
“There are hundreds of slots open,” the source close to the process told Heat Street. “The administration has had thousands of resumes, but very few are qualified, and there aren’t enough staff members to review applications with any real efficiency.”
All in all, the Trump Administration has to fill around 4,100 vacancies across a host of government departments. Generally, lower-level appointments should come from the Trump’s campaign operation, as a reward for assisting in a successful operation. But others, like high-level departmental appointments, often have to be sought after, and are filled by recommendation.
Sources also noted that the White House has called in allies from its campaign finance committee and among high-level business associates, to help fill key positions as quickly as possible.
There is, of course, no deadline to hire even senior staff, and Trump has pledged to cut back on government hiring (staffing for the First Lady’s office, for example, has been eliminated almost entirely). But in departments like Defense and others that provide guidance and intelligence, administrative staff is necessary to keeping things in motion.
The White House has kept around 50 key Obama staffers in their positions, but with growing concerns about leaks, they may not be long for their jobs.
At this same time in George W. Bush’s Presidency, he had around 18 major nominees confirmed. Barack Obama, however, had nearly 40.