While he has not used the word, President Obama's very first act, even before being sworn in, was to reorganize. As Jessica said yesterday, at the stroke of noon, January 20, 2008, the White House website changed, and with it a new, reorganized Executive Office of the President went into effect.
Having kept a close eye on the various Executive Branch charts over the past few months, I can now report on the major changes as I perceive them, including promotions, additions, and deletions to the president’s core staff structure. These reorganizations reflect profound changes in emphasis and priorities, adaptations to the external environment (literally), and a respect for the complexity of the job. All of this comes through in a number of new functions focused directly on the importance of organization itself.
Until today, our digital US Government organization chart used the Executive Office/White House structure of the Bush Administration as its basis. Each time, Pres-elect Obama made appointments and nominations, we entered those new names into existing positions, as we did when Larry Summers was named director of the National Economic Council. When a new position, such as Carol Browner’s remit to connect energy and climate, we engaged in some guesswork, trying to figure out how these new posts would hook together. Now we know.
President Obama's first appointment was Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff to the President, who now runs the Executive Office. From what we can tell, Emanuel has 19 people reporting directly to him--ranging from senior advisors such as David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett to James Jones, Director of the National Security Council. One of those 19 positions is that of the "White House Office" itself, which, in turn, is run, we think, by one of two Deputy Chiefs of Staff, either Mona Sutphen or Jim Messina. (This use of dual deputies is already a departure from the apparent Bush rule of one deputy.) While we can't quite determine yet whether Sutphen or Messina has this job, one of the two deputies has 23 people on staff, comprising a second group of advisors, offices, and councils that are two steps below the root of power.
Both the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Chief of Staff, with 19 and 23 direct reports respectively, are what we call “hub” positions in the US government, which we discuss extensively in our report and blog post on “Analyzing the Organization as a Network.”
Meanwhile, five organizations have been "promoted," their org-chart boxes having been moved up a level in the White House Office:
· Domestic Policy Council (Melody Barnes);
· National Economic Council (Summers);
· Office of National AIDS Policy;
· Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board; and
· White House Military Office.
Then there are nine new boxes representing official functions that simply were not there before:
· Chief of Staff's Office;
· Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy (Browner);
· Office of Management and Administration;
· Oval Office Operations;
· Office of Presidential Personnel;
· Office of Urban Affairs Policy;
· Office of Social Innovation (!); and
· A splitting of the position of Advance and Appointments into two functions
And two organizations have been eliminated:
· Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives; and
Missing from the list (so far as I can tell) and unaccounted for is the announced, and highly unusual, Office for Health Care Reform and its Director, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Daschle.
Based on press releases from the Obama-Biden change.gov site and the newer, but not complete, list of Nominations & Appointments on the whitehouse.gov site, we've been able to map about 50 positions in the Executive Office of the President. This means that we've got about half of them as press accounts of the President’s January 21 briefing for his staff, (the one announcing a pay freeze and emphasizing transparency), indicate that the staff as a whole numbers around 100.
To carry transparency the next step and to set a good example for other government departments and agencies to follow, we believe that President Obama should immediately publish the org chart of his office. In our view, such a chart should include names and responsibilities, indicating where jobs have been filled and where there are empty spots still awaiting appointments. Although all the departments publish org charts (you can see these charts on our site), the Bush White House's chart never went deeper than the two-level structure we just discussed.