The brand new Plum Book is right here — simply in time for Biden and job hunters.

  • The federal government eventually released an obscure federal document that will help the new Biden administration replace Donald Trump’s political appointee.
  • The Plum Book – as it is unofficially known – is a popular tool for in-depth administrations looking to fill positions and job seekers looking to secure jobs in the executive branch.
  • “It has become the equivalent of the Bible to understand what the landscape is for political jobs in government,” said Max Stier, President and CEO of the good government organization Partnership for Public Service.
  • You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.

The federal government has finally released an obscure 232-page government document that is central to the Biden government’s efforts to get their team up and running by inauguration day.

The unofficially named plum book contains details of the roughly 9,000 coveted management positions in the federal government.

It usually arrives in early December of any presidential election year, just in time for the new White House team.

However, this time the new version was delayed by a few weeks due to “technical questions” that the publishing house of Congress asked the Trump administration authority responsible for managing the workforce of the federal government, according to a House Democratic advisor familiar with the process.

Biden’s transition team looks at the plum book because it contains about 4,000 political representatives from the Trump administration’s executive branch who are likely to be replaced when the government is handed over.

For starters, it gives in-depth administration a full view of which Trump officers work where in the government. This could be especially important if the outgoing Trump administration doesn’t take the usual step of asking political officials to resign before Biden is sworn in.

Some people in Biden’s orbit are concerned that Trump will force Biden to purge the outgoing commander in the chief’s political appointments that do not step down by inauguration day.

The plum book is also the most detailed public glimpse into who works where in the executive branch. Some of these details are posted on agency websites, but the names and titles of political representatives in federal agencies are not always made public.

Anyone looking for a job in the administration of Biden should also search the document. The federal hiring experts recently told Insider that the plum book should be the first port of call for applicants so they can know exactly what positions they are fishing for.

“It has become the equivalent of the Bible to understand what the landscape is for political jobs in government,” said Max Stier, President and CEO of the good government organization Partnership for Public Service.

Publication delay

The 2020 edition of the Plum Book went online by government publisher December 29, according to a senior Democratic advisor to the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

The House Watchdog Committee prepared the document using data provided by the Trump administration’s Office of Personal Management that tracks the federal hiring.

That was weeks later than the December 5, 2016 and December 1, 2012 release of the document, which caused some federal government experts to worry about the delay as the Trump administration slowed other president’s transition efforts.

The House Democratic advisor told Insider that the publication had stalled because the Government Publishing Office, which is part of the legislature, had technical questions for OPM.

“Due to the delay in answering the technical questions, the release was a few weeks late,” said the aide.

An OPM spokesman said the data from the plum book was sent to the Government Publishing Office on November 13th.

Every four years, the publication of the document rotates between the House Supervisory Committee and its Senate counterpart, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. In 2020 it was the turn of the democratically run house.

“The plum book has been an invaluable tool for in-depth administrations for decades to identify any position in the federal government,” Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.), chairman of home oversight and reform, told Insider this week. “There are many pressing issues that the Biden-Harris administration needs to address immediately, and the full list of roles to be filled will enable them to do so on day one.”

“Bible of Federal Patronage”

The plum book dates back to the president’s transition between the Harry Truman administration and Dwight Eisenhower.

Democrats had controlled the White House for two decades, and when Eisenhower was elected in 1952, his new GOP administration asked for a list of government positions the new president could fill, according to the Government Publishing Office.

Although officially titled “United States Politics and Supportive Positions,” the document informally came to be known as the plum book for the plum jobs it describes, and “In 2000, a creative designer introduced a plum-colored cover,” said late politician columnist William Sapphires. He called the publication the “eagerly awaited Bible of Federal Patronage”.

In recent years there has been an urge to modernize the process and make it easier for the federal government to access employment data for the public. Legislation had stalled in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2020, so the executive branch had to keep an up-to-date directory of senior government leaders online.

The latest edition of the Plum Book has dates as of June 30, 2020, which means that by the time of publication it is already out of date. And many of those officials will turn around later this month.

“It’s crazy when you think about it,” said Taurus. “It’s a snapshot at the end of the administration, out of date within weeks. … It’s like printing the yellow pages when all you need is an online directory that is kept up to date.”

The public knows of candidates going through Senate endorsement, but many others will “fly under the radar until something goes wrong,” added Stier. “These are important jobs with real consequences and we should know who’s in them.”

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