Assessing President Donald Trump’s first 100 days
WASHINGTON – In his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump has taken steps to improve
the management and efficiency of the federal government, but he lacks full leadership teams in place
across the departments and agencies to thoughtfully devise and implement these changes.
Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, is encouraged
that the president so early in his term has placed an emphasis on management, starting earlier than his
predecessors. Stier noted that the creation of the White House Office of American Innovation to bring in
new ideas from the private sector and the executive order to identify ways to make the government more
accountable and employees more productive are both positive signs that this administration is making
government management a top priority.
A government that works better requires leadership in federal departments and agencies, but Trump has
struggled to nominate appointees quickly for top leadership positions. The delays could hinder his ability
to achieve meaningful reforms and to form productive relationships with the career workforce.
“The president has embarked on a Herculean challenge of reorganizing the government to make it leaner
and more effective, even before he has named or won Senate confirmation of dozens of agency leaders
beyond his Cabinet who will be needed to drive these changes,” said Stier. “As he undertakes such a
difficult and complex task, President Trump needs to also prioritize having his team in place. Not doing
so sub-optimizes his ability to run the government well.”
Trump has fallen well behind his predecessors in filling critical top government posts, including deputy
secretaries, assistant secretaries, chief financial officers and general counsels. As of April 25, Trump has
nominated only 58 of nearly 1,100 political appointees requiring Senate confirmation and only won
approval of just 25 appointees.
Only three major departments – Health and Human Services, Treasury and State – have more than one
Senate confirmed appointee, and the Department of Labor is still without a confirmed Cabinet secretary.
Here is a look at the 100 day historical appointments data for the past few administrations in
comparison to the Trump administration:
Nominated Confirmed “Failed”
Average Days to
Trump (as of April 25) 58 25 2 27
Obama 190 69 3 24
W. Bush 85 35 0 8
Clinton 176 49 2 13
H.W. Bush 95 50 1 21
Additionally, the pending number of appointees to clear federal ethics requirements is striking compared
to that of the Obama administration. As of April 17, Trump had only submitted 41 percent of the nominee
reports that his predecessor submitted in 2009, according to Office of Government Ethics data.
However, it is a positive development that the president in his first 100 days has encouraged agencies to
collaborate in the delivery of important services and programs to the public, called for streamlining
mission-support functions like IT, acquisition and financial management and wants to reduce overlapping
programs to save taxpayer money and increase effectiveness.
Stier cautioned that Trump’s emphasis on dramatically reducing the size of the workforce could be
counterproductive and needs to be carried out strategically to avoid losing essential talent and diminishing
the quality of services delivered to the public. He noted that workforce reductions in past administrations
have led to unintended consequences.
“Previous government-wide workforce reductions hampered, not helped, government effectiveness,” said
Stier. “The loss of front-line employees led to backlogs in services at customer-focused agencies such as
the IRS, Social Security Administration and at veterans’ hospitals. Some of these cutbacks also ended up
costing the government money in the long run.”
“The goal of a workforce realignment should be to produce better service for the public,” added Stier.
“This means setting goals, deploying people and resources accordingly, monitoring progress and ensuring
accountability for results.”
Stier urged Trump to work closely with Congress and to get input from career executives who understand
the workings of their agencies, stating that the real test for this administration will be in the details of
these various initiatives, how they will be carried out and the impact they have on the effective operation
of the government.
For 15 years, the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service has been dedicated to making the
federal government more effective for the American people. We work across administrations to help
transform the way government operates by increasing collaboration, accountability, efficiency and
innovation. Visit ourpublicservice.org to learn more.