“The Trump administration’s “fumbling response” to the outbreak is a “symptom” of the lack of presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed leaders across agencies directly involved in those efforts, groups like the Project on Government Oversight, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Senior Executives Associations, among others, said in a letter to congressional committee leaders. They suggested the lawmakers demand new appointments from Trump and consider “refusing to cooperate on key administration requests” until the White House puts forward qualified nominees for positions within their jurisdictions.
DHS has not had a confirmed secretary in nearly a year, and the top posts at many of its components playing a key role in the pandemic response are currently filled by officials in acting capacities. At the Health and Human Services Department, the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation is temporary. The State Department maintains dozens of vacant ambassador positions and has no assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs. The groups noted that the two agencies most central to “general government functioning”—the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget—have acting leaders who are “but the latest in a long confusing line” of temporary officials.”