Who Isn’t Running American Government: Appointee Vacancies in U.S. Executive Branch Agencies

Journal of Public Policy, Forthcoming

46 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2019

See all articles by William G. Resh

William G. Resh

University of Southern California- Sol Price School of Public Policy

Gary Hollibaugh

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science

Patrick Roberts

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University - Center for Public Administration and Policy

Matthew M. Dull

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Date Written: September 15, 2019

Abstract

We analyze presidential appointee positions subject to Senate-confirmation (PAS) without a confirmed appointee in office. These “vacant” positions are byproducts of American constitutional design, shaped by the interplay of institutional politics. Using a novel data-set, we analyze PAS vacancies across executive branch departments and single-headed agencies between January 1989 and January 2013. We develop a theoretical model in order to uncover the dynamics of vacancy onset and length. We then specify an empirical model and report results highlighting both position and principal-agent relations as critical to the politics of appointee vacancies. We find high-status PAS positions reduce the frequency and duration of vacancies. However, conditional on this and consistent with our theoretical model, we also find important principal-agent considerations from a separation of powers perspective, as vacant PAS positions in agencies ideologically divergent to the Senate majority are vacant for less time than in ideologically congruent agencies.

Keywords: Presidential Appointments, Senate, Vacancies

JEL Classification: J45

Suggested Citation

Resh, William G. and Hollibaugh, Gary and Roberts, Patrick and Dull, Matthew M., Who Isn’t Running American Government: Appointee Vacancies in U.S. Executive Branch Agencies (September 15, 2019). Journal of Public Policy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3310806 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3310806

William G. Resh (Contact Author)

University of Southern California- Sol Price School of Public Policy ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States

HOME PAGE: http://priceschool.usc.edu/william-g-resh/

Gary Hollibaugh

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science ( email )

2060 Jenkins Nanovic Halls
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.garyhollibaugh.com

Patrick Roberts

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University - Center for Public Administration and Policy ( email )

104 Draper Road (0520)
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States

Matthew M. Dull

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University ( email )

250 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States

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