About this story
The tracker is run by The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan good governance organization. Partnership for Public Service researchers are tracking presidential and congressional actions on about 800 top executive positions, part of the roughly 1,200 positions that require Senate confirmation.
What positions are included and not included?
The tracker includes all full-time civilian positions within the executive branch that require Senate confirmation, except judges, marshals, and U.S. attorneys. Military appointments and part-time positions requiring Senate confirmation are not included.
Biden has opted to keep some officials appointed by previous administrations in place. There are other officials who were confirmed in previous administrations for fixed periods and who continue to serve because their terms have not expired.
The tracker does not show officials serving on an interim basis, so positions not filled by Biden are not necessarily vacant. All presidents appoint temporary officials to Senate confirmed positions to maintain continuity when transitioning from one confirmed official to another. While acting officials for high-level positions are often widely reported, temporary officials for lesser-known positions are often not publicly reported — or inconsistently so.
The numbers in the tracker capture non-simultaneous positions. For example, a nomination to be Ambassador to the UN General Assembly and a separate nomination to be the United States Representative to the UN Security Council are considered one nomination.
How often is the tracker updated?
The tracker will be updated daily as positions are considered and filled.
How does the nomination process work?
Presidents formally appoint people to the Senate to fill each position, a responsibility established in the Constitution. The Senate refers most appointments to a specific committee with jurisdiction over the position. Committees review applicants and hold hearings to discuss their views, qualifications and background. After the hearing, the committees usually vote on whether to report the nomination favorably, unfavorably, or without recommendation. Or they can vote to take no action on the nomination.
A nomination is usually submitted to the full Senate for a final vote if the majority of the committee votes in favour, but this is not necessary for a final vote. Many nominations are approved by unanimous consent which limits debate and speeds up the process. For candidates subject to a vote, a simple majority is required to win confirmation. The Senate has rules that allow senators to express concerns about the appointment process.
Most appointments that go to the Senate are ultimately successful. However, some do not receive a vote in the Senate, either because their nominations are withdrawn by the President or because the Senate’s calendar year ends before a vote takes place. By law, nominations not confirmed at the end of the year are automatically withdrawn and the president must resubmit them for reconsideration at the next session of Congress.
Where does the information recorded in the Designated Person Tracking System come from?
Most information about the Senate nominations and process comes from Congress.gov, the official website for US federal legislative information. Information about positions confirmed by the Senate usually comes from the “Policies of United States Government and Supporting Positions,” known as the Plum Book, published by Congress every four years. However, each jurisdiction can add new positions and organizations, or change position titles. The tracker reflects these changes when they are made public.
Information on resignations and informal appointment announcements comes from publicly available sources such as news reports and government websites. The government does not publish any single, up-to-date source of information on the status of these positions. In some cases, public information on the status of certain officials or positions is inconsistent 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 small chance. The Partnership for Public Service and The Post have staff members and processes dedicated to monitoring nomination and confirmation developments. However, the federal government does not have a uniform method for reporting the employment statuses of appointees, and on occasion a change will occur with little or no media coverage. It is possible that changes may occur that are not yet identified in the tracker, especially for low profile positions. If you think something is missing that should be included, please contact email@example.com.
Research by Zoe Brouns, Christina Condreay, Carlos Galina and Mikayla Hyman. Research direction by Paul Hitlin. Database management and development by Mark Pruce. Design and development by Harry Stevens, Madison Walls and Adrián Blanco. Editing by Kevin Uhrmacher. Copy revised by Melissa Ngo.