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Tag Archive: Plum Book

The Missing Data Behind The Plum Book


The latest compilation of more than 8,000 federal jobs known as the Plum Book is out, and for the first time it is available in print, digital, and mobile format. There's still something missing, though, with this list that holds interest for the public and Washington, DC, power brokers: the data behind it. Every four years, the Government Printing Office (GPO) compiles this publication of positions that "may be subject to noncompetitive appointment," as GPO puts it. The book is important because of the information it provides about who is chosen to fill presidential-appointed and other positions. In short, it is the best, most authoritative list of senior positions throughout the executive branch. It originated in the 1950's during the Eisenhower administration, when the Republican Party requested a list of positions the president could fill, according to GPO. The Plum Book has come out every four years just after the presidential election since 1960. Anyone viewing the book (whatever the format) can look up positions by agency, position title, appointment type, pay, term expiration, and more. It is an incredibly rich source of information that has many possible uses. There are still barriers to accessing that information, however. The book is available on the GPO website in text and as a PDF, neither of which is an open format that would make sorting or reusing the underlying data a simple task.

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