"It went off the rails almost immediately"

Throughout the campaign, Trump took a hands-off approach to transition preparations. It was bad karma, he believed, to start planning a presidency before he won the election. Once elected, he decided to run things his own way. “It went off the rails almost immediately after the election,” said one knowledgeable person who declined to be identified to offer a candid assessment

One effect was that the Trump team could not scale up quickly enough during the transition and therefore failed to maintain a full pipeline of appointees for the new administration. The Partnership for Public Service, in collaboration with The Washington Post, has been tracking 553 key administration positions that require Senate confirmation. To date, just 21 nominees have been confirmed and another 44 await confirmation.

The pace of critical subcabinet appointments remains a serious problem, with many agencies still sparsely populated at the top. An administration official said announcements generally have been held back until proper vetting can take place, which did not occur during the transition. The hope is that, once nominated, confirmations can be completed more quickly.

Trump’s management preferences, honed in his business, also overrode the recommendation of some transition planners for a White House structured with clear lines of authority and a strong chief of staff. That structure was meant to discipline to the president’s mercurial style. Instead, Trump created a White House of multiple and competing power centers, personal rivalries and internal conflict.