The Washington Post

Obama cabinet agencies missing a few deputies going into the home stretch

President Obama and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The Obama administration has gotten all its cabinet-level members confirmed, but there are still four deputy secretary slots open and another one soon to be open.

There are three nominees pending in the Senate for those jobs. The nomination of Nani Coloretti for deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is pending on the Senate floor, as is the nomination of Robert Holleyman to be one of three deputy U.S. Trade reps. (One of those slots is filled; no one’s been nominated for the other.)

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall’s nomination to be deputy Secretary of Energy is still in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee — but Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman is still on the job for now. And there is no nominee yet for the #2 slot at the Small Business Administration. (That job’s been vacant for about 14 months so apparently there’s no rush.)

There could have been one more vacant deputyship, but it’s not clear that Veterans Affairs deputy secretary Sloan Gibson is leaving the post any time soon. Sloan had been acting secretary after the departure of Eric Shinseki on May 30.

Seems the norm is for interim agency chiefs to leave the government soon after they are replaced by a permanent chief, in this case Secretary Robert McDonald. The interims get used to being in charge and don’t want to start taking orders again.

But McDonald and Gibson are old West Point chums and they’ve gone out of their way of late to talk about how much they look forward to working together, our colleague Josh Hicks tells us. So it may be Gibson is bucking the trend and sticking around.












Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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