The blogsophere is abuzz with worry about how long the Obama administration is taking to fill appointee positions. Shouldn’t we be worried, the bloggers ask, if cabinet heads are “home alone” at the top of their agency?

Some of the appointed positions remain empty because of the high organizational hurdles to finding and clearing nominees quickly. Others remain empty because, as Conor Clarke put it, “Prospective candidates [for appointed positions are Treasury] are avoiding the Treasury like drug-addled teenagers avoid their parents.”  In other cases, Obama officials want to fill only the top two levels of an agency with outside appointees and use careerists for other posts, according to an administration source.

But are department secretaries like Treasury’s Timothy Geithner really “home alone” or “lonely at the top” without a cadre of appointees? What about the experienced careerists who are advising them now? Consider whether these careerists might be better advisors that some or even many appointees. Perhaps the Obama administration will realize that the dichotomy between administrative competence or control through appointees is a false one.

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