The Obama administration’s painstaking vetting of nominees for important positions has left many lower-level posts unfilled at a time of crisis, NPR reports. Some agencies lack appointees below Cabinet level—meaning, for example, that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is swamped as “pretty much the only Obama appointee with a desk at the Treasury,” NPR says. It’s “shameful,” former Fed chairman Paul Volker told Congress.
The unfilled jobs “are the people who do a lot of the work," says an expert. "It's sub-Cabinet positions that actually help to write the legislation, make the policy and do the oversight needed for effective government.” Obama has filled about 70 of some 360 “policy jobs” that need Senate confirmation—so Bush policies still guide many agencies, notes an analyst.