By Annie Hayes
With every new incoming administration there are many changing dynamics that take place within the bureaucracy that is our federal government.
A number of departments and federal agencies are led by politically-appointed staff, who are done with their duties on the last day the outgoing president is in office. It is the new administration’s job to fill thousands of these types of positions to continue the work that needs to be done every day across all the different offices. For example, we had the opportunity to meet with Lanon Baccam who works as the Deputy Under Secretary of Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services in the USDA. He spoke to us about how the change in administrations will affect the work being done at the Department of Agriculture, expressing how he really doesn’t have a good idea of what the future will look like since President Trump has not given much detail about what his priorities are on many issues. We had the same response from others working within the public sector, including the Cory Claussen at the CFTC(Commodity Futures Trading Commission). Both Cory and Lanon are political appointees, who’s positions will soon be filled by the new administration.
Similarly, those who are working outside of the federal government such journalists are trying to wrap their heads about what they are to expect in conducting their work for the next 4 years. We met with a Drake alum from The Atlantic, Matt Vasilogambros, and spoke about the relationship between Trump and the media, expressing how difficult it looks like it is going to be to cover the White House in a fair and transparent manner. One factor that drew people to support Trump was his constant attack on the ‘biased liberal media’, ‘fake news’, and their coverage of him. He has since tried to limit the amount of access the media has to him. On so many levels this is dangerous to our democracy and transparency of information needed between the government and the people, to keep the public informed.
Usually those working in the different departments and agencies of the government have a pretty good idea of what the incoming administration has instore for what policy actions they are going to be advocating for, but this time around that is not the case. It’s no secret that Trump never ran on any real substance when it came to what his policy proposals were going to be, and this has led to this uncertainty across those inside of the federal government, and those entities with the important responsibility of keeping the public informed.
It is going to be a very interesting 4 years watching and waiting to see what Trump does (or tweets). While the President is limited in his power to do a lot in getting his agenda implemented, he still has an obligation to keep the public and his government informed about what he is planning to do.