March 16, 2021

The Honorable Carolyn Maloney
Chairwoman
House Oversight and Reform Cmte.
United States House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable James Comer
Ranking Member
House Oversight and Reform Cmte.
United States House of Representatives
2105 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: Support for Periodically Listing Updates to Management Act (The PLUM Act)

Dear Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the undersigned bipartisan group of civil society organizations, we write in strong support of the reintroduction of the Periodically Listing Updates to Management Act (PLUM Act), which would increase transparency and oversight of the most senior leaders of the Executive Branch.

The publication United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, commonly called the Plum Book, is a congressional document published every four years that lists more than 9,000 political appointees.[1] It contains information on senior federal civil servants in the legislative and executive branches that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment (e.g., agency heads and policy advisors). In other words, it contains positions that often have a close and confidential relationship with the agency head or other key officials — plum positions.

Appointments and vacancy information contained in the Plum Book rapidly go out of date as a consequence of the report’s infrequent publication. The PLUM Act would modernize the Plum Book and publish online a current, continuously-updated directory of senior government leaders. It requires the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management “to establish and maintain a public directory of the individuals occupying Government policy and supporting positions.”

The PLUM Act would resolve an important issue raised by the Government Accountability Office, which noted in a March 2019 report that “there is no single source of data on political appointees serving in the executive branch that is publicly available, comprehensive, and timely.”[2] It would address GAO’s conclusion that such a source of “information would facilitate congressional oversight and hold leaders accountable.”

The continuously-updated repository of information about political appointees required under the PLUM Act would facilitate independent review and analysis related to political appointees. It would make it possible to understand which offices are filled and which offices have vacancies, how long those offices have been vacant, and how that information has changed over time. Publication may increase visibility for these job opportunities and encourage a wider pool of diverse candidates to pursue these positions.

We thank you for your efforts regarding the PLUM Act in the 116th Congress and support the reintroduction and passage of that legislation this Congress. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further. Please contact Daniel Schuman, Policy Director for Demand Progress at Daniel@DemandProgress.org or 240-237-3930.

Sincerely,

18by.Vote
Americans for Prosperity
Campaign Legal Center
Center for Common Ground
Clean Elections Texas
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Common Defense
Demand Progress
Fix Democracy First
Government Accountability Project
Government Information Watch
Greenpeace US
Harrington Investments, Inc.
Issue One
New Progressive Alliance
Open the Government
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Senior Executives Association
Society of Professional Journalists
Union of Concerned Scientists
Brian Baird, Former Member of Congress*
Daniel Verarly, aheadofideas.com*
Kel McClanahan, National Security Counselors*
Lorelei Kelly, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown*

* Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.

[1] See “United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions” (2016) https://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/united-states-government-policy-and-supporting-positions-december-1-2016-plum-book-0

[2] “Government-wide Political Appointee Data and Some Ethics Oversight Procedures at Interior and SBA Could Be Improved,” Government Accountability Office, Report 19-249 (March 2019), https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/697593.pdf.