Filling the Plum Assignments

Date: January 11th, 2017
By:

Bob Reeg

The 115th Congress has been called to order. Its first orders of business (other than the threatened instant repeal of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”) are the confirmations of President-elect Trump’s Cabinet appointments. Congress is working at break-neck speed to onboard the Trump Team on or shortly after his inauguration on January 20.

The federal department secretary nominees of greatest relevance to youth and families include:

Health and Human Services Secretary Nominee, Tom Price
If confirmed, Secretary Price would lead the Cabinet department with executive responsibility over Medicare, Medicaid, public health, health services, child welfare, family violence services, child care, and family income assistance. Of particular importance to Healthy Teen Network, this department houses the Office of Adolescent Health and the Family and Youth Services Bureau, each of which administer teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Education Secretary Nominee, Betsy DeVos
If confirmed, Secretary DeVos would lead the cabinet department with executive responsibility over preschool, elementary, secondary, and higher education. Of particular importance to Healthy Teen Network, this department houses an Office of Civil Rights that monitors and enforces schools’ compliance with civil right to education laws, including laws and regulations pertaining to pregnant and parenting student access to education and gender equity in publicly-funded education.

Attorney General Nominee, Jeff Sessions
If confirmed, General Sessions would lead the Cabinet department with executive responsibility over enforcement of law and administration of justice. Of particular importance to Healthy Teen Network, the department houses the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and administers programs and services for survivors of family violence and trafficking. It investigates and sometimes prosecutes incidents of hate crimes and discrimination.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Nominee, Ben Carson
If confirmed, Secretary Carson would lead the Cabinet department with executive responsibility over affordable housing, community development, housing finance, and discrimination in housing. Of particular importance to Healthy Teen Network, the department administers programs and services for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness including homeless youth and young adults.

Labor Secretary Nominee, Andy Puzder
If confirmed, Secretary Puzder would lead the Cabinet department with executive responsibility over workforce development and worker protections. Of particular importance to Healthy Teen Network, the department administers programs and services to prepare youth for careers.

We trust our readers to follow news media and conduct their own research on the wide range of assessments available of these nominees’ fitness for Cabinet service. We will simply say that they bring life experiences and have taken policy positions that are in sharp contrast to Cabinet secretaries who served and are serving in the Obama Administration. Elections have consequences. Expect changes in federal public policy implementation and enforcement priorities accordingly.

While Cabinet nominees grab the headlines, you may not be aware that each President has a deep executive branch to fill—over 4,100 positions to be more precise about it. Of those positions, about one-quarter require Senate confirmation. This includes deputy and assistant secretaries of Cabinet departments, leaders of federal independent agencies, U.S. ambassadors, and U.S. attorneys. If you really want to go micro, check out the Plum Book, which lists the over 7,000 civil service leadership and support positions the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointments. Many of these positions fly “below the radar” and certainly won’t make it above the fold of one’s daily paper. A few of them will (think the U.S. Surgeon General or the administrator of NASA). Healthy Teen Network will be paying close attention to forthcoming Presidential nominations and appointments for leadership of those components of federal Cabinet departments and independent agencies whose actions immediately affect our members and the youth and families they serve.

We encourage readers who wish to take action by expressing their point of view on one or more of the President-elect’s nominees for Cabinet secretaries to contact their two U.S. Senators by phone or online form.  Find the U.S. Senators who represent you at www.senate.gov or reach their offices through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

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About the Author

Bob Reeg, MPA, CVA, Program Development and Public Policy Consultant, is an accomplished nonprofit organization program director & public policy analyst and advocate, and an emerging social purpose entrepreneur.

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