Aside from the State Department, agencies like the departments of Commerce and Agriculture also lack crucial appointed officials, said Max Stier, CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. The departments of Labor and Education, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, are among the agencies that have seen the smallest proportion of Trump appointees confirmed to key jobs.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Qualified acting officials have served in many of the positions Trump has failed to fill, Stier said. But he likened them to substitute teachers, who lack all the tools to do their jobs effectively.
In addition, many of those officials just lost even more authority to carry out their jobs after Trump passed a key legal deadline.
Anne O'Connell, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied the presidential appointment process, expects confirmations for Trump administration jobs to pick up. She notes that the Senate had received 529 overall Trump nominations as of Nov. 17, including judicial appointments. At the same point in his presidency, President Barack Obama had sent 601 overall nominations.
She believes Trump will see a "big bump" in confirmations before the end of his first year in office in January. Republicans control 52 Senate seats and nominees only need a majority vote for confirmation.
While Trump has pledged not to fill many jobs in the government, O'Connell expects him to appoint officials in key agencies "if the White House cares about agencies carrying out its policy preferences."