Vacancies among appointees in U.S. federal agencies: Implications for employee attitudes and intentions

Amanda Rutherford, Taha Hameduddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attention to vacancies in appointee positions subject to U.S. Senate confirmation has grown dramatically. Research regarding appointee vacancies commonly assumes negative consequences—loss of political control, promotion of second-rate subordinates, undermined teamwork—for public agencies though little empirical work exists to confirm such expectations. This study tests whether vacancies at the top of U.S. federal agencies influence job satisfaction and turnover intention among upper-level employees. Using vacancy data and multiple waves of the Federal Human Capital Survey/Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, we find that upper-level employees report marginally higher levels of satisfaction when vacancies occur. Further, these vacancies have a negative association with individual-level intent to leave an agency for another job in the federal government, signaling a higher likelihood that institutional knowledge is maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1247-1269
Number of pages23
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Governance published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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