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Trial Balloons

Working for Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

As you may have noticed, I am out of the predictions business. In fact, I officially resigned from making predictions at 11:14 on the night of November 8, 2016 when NBC announced that Donald J. Trump had crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold and would be the 45th President of the United States.

That's why I will not predict whether Mitt Romney will be the next Secretary of State. I don't know if the President-elect is stringing Romney along; if Romney is stringing the President-elect along, or if each actually wants Romney to get the job.

For the purposes of this column, it doesn't matter.

On the Friday before the election I gave a short lecture to the board of directors of the Society of American Florists. Putting aside the fact that I was wrong in everything I told them, I had a chat with one of their senior government affairs guys afterwards about the possibility of Trump winning and who would want to work in a Trump Administration.

I said to him that unless someone got a job in the EOP - the Executive Office of the President - it was unlikely that they would ever be in a one-on-one discussion with President Trump. It was more likely they would be in an office in the Department of Commerce Building, HUD, HHS, or the Pentagon - buried in an Assistant- or Deputy Assistant Secretary's office lucky to have assigned parking.

On the other hand, I said, someone has to run the programs on behalf of the Administration and, if those someones happened to have experience from working for Ronald Reagan or either of the George Bush's, so much the better.

That's what Governor Romney has brought with him to Trump Tower: He has made it OK to want to work for the Trump Administration.

There are some 2.8 million civilian employees of the Federal government. The vast majority of them are permanent jobs, meaning they keep doing what they're doing notwithstanding who is sitting in the Oval Office. They are almost impossible to pry out of their jobs There are approximately 4,000 jobs that are deemed "political." That is, they serve at the pleasure of the President (or his/her designee) and can be gotten rid of at almost any time for almost any - or no - reason.

Of those, about 1,200 require Senate confirmation. From Cabinet Secretary to three or four levels down. The rest can begin serving as soon as their paperwork clears.

There is a book known as the "Plum Book" that describes each of these positions. It should be for sale from the Government Printing Office any day now. You can find the link to the 2012 version on the Secret Decoder Ring page.

The best advice I can give you if you are interested in an Administration job is: Don't expect anyone to read your mind.

Over the course of the years, I have had dozens, maybe hundreds, of people ask me how to get a job.

Me: What do you want to do?

You: What do you think I should go for?

Me: Not my job. You look around and see what you might be interested in and get back to me.

You: I'll do anything.

Me: I've looked at, maybe, 1,000 organizational charts in my life. I've never seen one with a box marked, "Anything."

On the other side, I don't expect anyone in the Transition Office to be sitting around musing about what would be the perfect job for Rich Galen.

Do your homework. Fill out the form at Call everyone you know who might be able to get your name into the mix.

Even after all that remember that getting a job in the Trump Administration might be at the top of your list of Things To Do in 2017, but you are not likely to be at the top of the list of anyone on the Transition Team.

Press forward, but keep in mind you are not likely to make it on the C-SPAN Elevator Cam in the lobby of Trump Tower.

Good hunting!

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