"As President Obama tries to turn around a summer of setbacks, he finds himself still without most of his own team. Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda.
Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled — a reflection of a White House that grew more cautious after several nominations blew up last spring, a Senate that is intensively investigating nominees and a legislative agenda that has consumed both.
While career employees or holdovers fill many posts on a temporary basis, Mr. Obama does not have his own people enacting programs central to his mission. He is trying to fix the financial markets but does not have an assistant treasury secretary for financial markets. He is spending more money on transportation than anyone since Dwight D. Eisenhower but does not have his own inspector general watching how the dollars are used. He is fighting two wars but does not have an Army secretary.
He sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Africa to talk about international development but does not have anyone running the Agency for International Development. He has invited major powers to a summit on nuclear nonproliferation but does not have an assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation.
“If you’re running G.M. without half your senior executives in place, are you worried? I’d say your stockholders would be going nuts,” said Terry Sullivan, a professor at the University of North Carolina and executive director of the White House Transition Project, a scholarly program that tracks appointments. “The notion of the American will — it’s not being thwarted, but it’s slow to come to fruition.”