The White House is preparing for a post-midterm turnover


The White House is embarking on a talent hunt to be ready for changes in President Biden’s cabinet and other high-level administration positions after the 2022 midterm elections.

Driving the news: White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has tapped former administration officials Jeff Zients and Natalie Quillian to help oversee an extensive scout for talent outside of the administration to attract new talent, an administration official told Axios.

Why it matters: Almost all of the positions that Zients and Quillian will list for would require Senate confirmation, which could be complicated if Republicans take control of the chamber after the midterms.

The big picture: The Biden administration has not grappled with the cabinet change for the first two years — a reflection of loyalty to the president, sense of governance during a pandemic, and differences in style and tenor from former President Trump’s approach to top Helper.

  • The ongoing process is designed to ensure the government is ready for potential departures from the Cabinet, Deputy Cabinet and senior administration, as is usual after elections.

How it works: Zients and Quillian will report to the President’s Office of Human Resources, Gautam Raghavan, and will work closely with Klain to reach and interview candidates in Congress, state government and across industries.

  • Their recommendation lists will then be submitted to Biden.
  • Zients and Quillian will temporarily serve as special government employees without receiving compensation.

The details: Zients and Quillian have both been involved in staffing and personnel decisions on the 2020 Biden-Harris transition team.

  • Zients co-chaired the Biden transition team before becoming the White House Covid-19 response coordinator.
  • Quillian was previously Associate Coordinator of COVID-19 Response and her responsibilities as Associate Campaign Manager included people responsibility, among other portfolio elements.

What you say: “There’s probably quite a bit of job satisfaction,” said Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks attrition.

  • “The lack of turnover is really good, not just for Biden and his appointees, but for the departments and the officers who work in those departments. It allows the President to enact their programs.”
  • “To bring in ex-employees to support PPO [Presidential Personnel Office]- that seems like something new to me,” she added, noting that the role of the President’s Human Resources Office is to constantly recruit and find people for the top positions.


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