Despite the professed intention to scour the country for the best available talent, despite the computerized lists of names and qualifications for government office, Jimmy Carter and many of his key associates have turned first to their friends and colleagues to fill important jobs.
This is not universally true, and many appointments remain to be made, but the pattern is unmistakable. First President-elect Carter and now many of the people he has named to Cabinet-level jobs have put their initial trust in familiar people.
"There're looking for what is comfortable," observed one participant in the fledgling administration's talent search. In this context, it appears, what is comfortable is someone you know.
Besides Carter's own appointments of friends and longtime colleagues to numerous important jobs, there are these examples:
Rep. Brock Adams, the Secretary of Transportation designate, has chosen an eight-member "management team" that will help him run his department. Six of the eight have worked directly with Adams on Capitol Hill: one worked for another congressman: one is a newcomer.
Gov. Cecil D. Andrus of Idaho, the Secretary of the Interior-designate, has brought several associates from Idaho to serve in the upper levels of his department.
Thomas B. (Bert) Lance. Carter's selection as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (an old friend of Carter's) has reportedly chosen a fellow-Georgian and old associate, James T. McIntyre Jr., to be his senior deputy at the OMB.
Cyrus R. Vance. Secretary of State-designate, has assembled a team of associates that includes one of his law partners and three former intimates from previous periods of government service.
Joseph A. Califano Jr., designated as Secretary of Health. Education and Welfare, made one quick appointment soon after Carter named him. He picked an associate from his law firm, Benjamin W. Heineman Jr., to be his executive assistant.
Secretary of Labor-designate F. Ray Marshall chose an old friend and career civil servant, Robert J. Brown, to be under secretary.
Just as Carter picked a combination of intimates, friends and newcomers for his Cabinet, so too have his Cabinet-level appointees picked a variety of aides for themselves. Not all have turned to longtime friends and associates.
One, the choice for Secretary of Defense, Harold Brown was given a deputy along with his job. The deputy will be Charles W. Dunean Jr., a former president of the Coca-Cola Co., whom brown did not know previously at all.
Griffin B. Bell, the designated Attorney General in the Carter administration, may fill his top positions in the Justice Department with a variety of women. Blacks and others to satisfy critics of his own appointment.
Other Cabinet-level officials have already chose or will choose associates whom they don't know or have not previously worked with. Vance balanced his team at the State Department with two blacks, four women and several neophytes to the world of foreign policy.
So it would be easy to exaggerate the degree of reliance on friends in the new administration. Carter himself set the pattern: he picked close friends and political allies for his White House staff, his Attorney General, his director of OMB, his national security adviser and his director of central intelligence. He was well-acquainted with his Secretary of State, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of HEW and Secretary of Defense, and took some people he didn't know until recently for other posts.
The upper level of the administration will be a combination of friends, acquaintances and unknowns. But the friends and intimates will hold most of the key positions.
Brock Adams has apparently gone further than any other member of the new Cabinet in chosing longtime intimates for his staff at DOT. Sources close to Adams explain his choices this way.
Carter has told adams that his first priority must be to reorganize the sprawling Department of Transportation. With this assignment in mind. Adams decided to assemble a management team" of people he has worked with closely in the past - "people he has known and trusted."
Adams is said to feel that his principal problem will be "to reorganize without being knocked flat on his face," and he is counting on this group of intimates to help him through the bureacratic minefield ahead.
Adams plans not to fill the other senior jobs in his department until the shape of his reorganization emerges. He is said to feel it would be a mistake to pick people for jobs that may soon be altered or abolished.
What about the Carter organization's promises to find new talent for the government? Adams' associates note that he has picked a woman and a black for his management team. Beyond that, they say, he has not been pressured to pick outsiders.
Indeed, though the Carter transition office's talent hunters have given Adams lists of possible appointees to his department, they have also told him he can chose whomever he wants. "There's no pressure," one associate said.
There are indications that the appointments to the new administration thus far do not entirely fill the requirements Carter and his closest advisers set for themselves before the process began. Friends of those who have been intimately involved in the process report the feeling that it was harder to track down truly new faces than was originally hoped.
One problem, it is said, involved checking out a name that one hasn't heard of previously. "It's much easier to stick with people you know, or whose reputations you know," as one intimate observer of this process put it.
More significant, however, may be the natural inclination of someone suddenly blessed with enormous new power to look for trustworthy and comfortable associates who can help him or her to use it. "The pressures (to pick known people) are very, very strong," observed Prof. Erwin C. Hargrove of Vanderbilt University, a student of presidential power.
Hargrove said he thought a President would need familiar people around him, "particularly if he's serious about implementing policies from the White House." Or, as one Carter associate put it, loyalty is important.
A man who has had a good vantage point from which to watch Carter since election day theorized that once a man is in a position of great power, "the circle of people he can trust does notgrow."