How To Be A Successful Presidential Appointee | KERA News

How To Be A Successful Presidential Appointee

Dec 12, 2016

President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration could appoint as many as 4,000 senior-level bureaucrats. Many of those appointees will arrive on the job with no government experience.

On Think, Krys Boyd talked with G. Edward Deseve, a former special advisor to President Barack Obama, about making a smooth transition from one administration to the next. He’s the author of “The Presidential Appointee’s Handbook.”    

The KERA Interview

G. Edward Deseve on …

… how to have a smooth transition from one administration to the next:

“Know how to get things done and respect the process. That may sound like, 'Oh you’re just dragging your feet. Oh, you can’t do this, you can’t do that.' What happens if you don’t respect the process is it comes back and it bites you in the back, because you’ll miss a step somewhere along the way, and the people who don’t like the ideas that you’re espousing will say, ‘Ah-ha! You forgot to notify people 12 days ahead of the Tuesday when this is going to happen.’ And you’ll be jammed as a result of that. We’ve seen that time and time again. So, understand the process. Work the process to your advantage. There are plenty of people around you, political and non-political career folks who can explain it to you. They’re not trying to slow you down, they’re trying to make sure that you do everything you need to do along the way.”    

… how to be a successful appointee:  

“The folks in the senior executive service are supposed to be 'neutrally competent' from a political standpoint. There was a head of the White House bureau budget back in the ‘20s. His name was General Dawes. General Dawes was asked, ‘What if the president asked you to put manure on the steps of the White House, would you do it?’ He said, ‘I would say, sir, how deep?’ You have to be willing to take on the tasks that you’re assigned, and you have to try and make your point of view understood and internalized by the people you’re working with.”    

… Donald Trump’s incoming administration:

“You look at the people he has in some cases they may be ideologues or held to be ideologues. It doesn’t mean they’re not competent. It doesn’t mean that they’re not thoughtful individuals. They’ve run larger organizations. They’ve taken on strong challenges. I think it’s entirely possible that they’ll be quite competent, and that a la 'The Apprentice,' Mr. Trump will use a hiring process that’s very effective. The harder question is will they hone their competencies in such a way that they can become part of a very effective team that includes the core staff of the government, and can they also work with the Congress? Can they sublimate their egos somewhat to be able to be more effective? I just don’t know the answer to that yet.”