CELINA

In 2009, to ensure that Latinas were represented in the Obama Administration, NHLI launched an initiative to assist its alumnae in navigating the appointments process. This initiative, referred to as CELINA, short for the Campaign to Ensure Latina Inclusion in the New Administration (CELINA).  NHLI is once again providing this assistance to its alumnae and is re-launching the CELINA initiative. 

In the 2012 Presidential election, an unprecedented number of Latinas—representing nearly half the estimated 11 million Latino voters who cast ballots—made history and demonstrated their force and value to the nation.

Latinas took the first step by coming out in high numbers. NHLI is taking the second step by leading the effort to translate the Latina political vote into opportunities for Latinas in the new administration.

In mid-February, NHLI leaders will convene a webinar for Latinas interested in securing an appointment with the Obama Administration. They will outline the appointments process, provide available resources and take questions from participants.   


What NHLI Will Do

In addition to informing Latinas about the process, NHLI will recommend interested candidates to the White House and federal agencies. NHLI will also refer candidates to women’s group and request that they support NHLI candidates.


Learn More

Review the CELINA web pages to familiarize yourself with the appointments’ process and resources.  If you have additional questions about the application process and eligibility, please submit your question along with a contact number by email to CELINA@nhli.org and Rita Jaramillo will get back to you within 48 hours.

For more information on other efforts on behalf of Latinos visit: The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA). http://www.nationalhispanicleadership.org/resources.html

The National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) was established in 1987 to address the underrepresentation of Latinas in the political, corporate and nonprofit arenas.

 

Review

• As a review, if you are interested in a political appointment, in addition to letting the CELINA team know of your interest, below is the three step process we encourage you to complete in order to receive full consideration:

Identify positions of interest in the Plum Book (Note: While slots may not be currently open, selecting ones that match your skill set and interest will be helpful in the process): http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-PLUMBOOK-2012/content-detail.html

Upload your resume, list your skills and areas of interest, and identify your references at: https://apply.whitehouse.gov/

For more information and additional guidance please contact: CELINA@nhli.org

 



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The Presidential Appointee Roadmap

This Roadmap is designed to provide prospective applicants with information to help them decide whether and how to apply for a position with the incoming administration.

1. Understand the Difference Between a Political Appointment and a Career Position in the Federal Government.

a) What is a Political Appointment?

At the beginning of a new Presidential administration, the incoming President makes important personnel changes. These changes include selecting new Cabinet secretaries, agency heads, ambassadors, and other government officials who support the President's goals and policies. These officials are responsible for formulating, advocating, and directing the administration's policies and programs. The White House Office of Presidential Personnel manages the appointments process for all political positions.
b) How is a Political Appointment Different from a Career Federal Position?

The vast majority of the approximately 1.8 million executive branch civilian positions do not change with the incoming administration. A Federal career employee's position is based on a competitive merit system. You can apply for a career position at anytime. If you are interested in a career position in the Federal Government please visit career position in the Federal Government please visit http://www.usajobs.gov/

USAJOBS is the official job site of the United States Federal Government. It's your one-stop source for career Federal jobs and employment information. The positions listed on USAjobs are NOT political appointments.

c) What are the Different Categories of Appointed Positions?

Most appointments end at the conclusion of a Presidential administration. Some, such as judges, are lifetime appointments while others, such as members of boards and commissions, are term appointments for a specified number of years. There are four main types of political appointments, each with a slightly different appointment process.

Presidential Appointment Requiring Senate Confirmation (PAS) PAS positions are Presidential appointments made with the advice and consent of the Senate. These are some of the most senior positions in the Federal Government. They include Cabinet officers; heads of executive branch agencies and departments; ambassadors; Federal judges, U.S. attorneys; and chairpersons and members of boards, commissions, and committees.

Presidential Appointment (PA) These positions may be appointed by the President without Senate confirmation and may be removed at any time. PAs are often found on Presidential appointed boards and commissions.

Non-Career Senior Executive Service (NC-SES)
The SES includes most of the top managerial, supervisory, and policy positions in the executive branch. Only 10 percent of SES positions may be filled by non-career appointees. These appointees do not require Senate confirmation and may be removed from their position at any time. All SES employees, including appointees, must meet Executive Core Qualifications that are set by the Office of Personnel Management.

Schedule C Schedule C positions are the most common type of political appointment. Schedule C appointees generally serve a key official and are frequently found in the Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, or Office of Congressional Affairs. All Schedule C appointees are at the GS-15 level (pay level) or below and can be removed from their position at any time. These appointments do not require Senate confirmation.

d) Not sure which path?

Research the jobs using the Plum Book!

2. Assess the likelihood that you could be considered.

a) Do You Have the Right Qualifications?

Do you have relevant government, management, or technical experience for this position?

How have your previous jobs or degrees prepared you for this position? Do you have the right subject matter expertise (e.g., housing, health care)?

Do you have the right skills for this job function (e.g.,management, contracting, finance)?

Do some research to find out how you compare to others who held the position previously.

For PAS positions, the relevancy of your experiences to the position and the strength of your network are of paramount importance. Be sure that you are inclusive and accurate in sharing all of your relevant experiences, skills, and qualifications. Furthermore, your network of supporters will be critically important in advocating for your nomination—be sure that you can count on them to help you?

b) How Broad is Your Network?

Do you know people connected to the White House, transition team, agency leadership, or Congress who will advocate for you?

Do you know people in special interest groups who will advocate for you or try to block your appointment?

Consult your network of supporters to get their insights on jobs that you are interested in pursuing. Ask them to make calls or write letters of support on your behalf.



c) What is Your Connection to the President-elect? Do Any of the Following Situations Apply to You?

I am/was a paid or volunteer campaign, transition, or inaugural staff member.

I am/was a staff member of the winning political party.

I was a fundraiser or contributor to the campaign.

While it helps to have answered yes to these questions, you are not automatically disqualified if the answers are no. If you have had limited interaction with the new administration, make sure to tap into your well connected support network to help justify your case.


3. Assess Your Tolerance for Public Scrutiny.

a) Are You Prepared to Have Your Finances Dissected?

Most political appointees find the hours long and the pace intense. It is important to consider how having an extremely demanding job—and being in the public spotlight—might affect you and your family's lifestyle.

b) Are you prepared to have your friends, family, and business
associates questioned by law enforcement officials about your behavior
and character?


c) Is there anything that you have written (hard copy or online) that might influence or affect your chances of being considered?

Clean up your online presence (e.g., personal blogs, Facebook, Linked-In, etc.) to ensure that anything controversial is deleted. Conduct a web-search for your name (Google Yourself) to see what others can find out about you. Be prepared to explain anything that might appear controversial.

d) Are you (and your family) prepared to cope with potentially critically portrayals in the media? In the media spotlight, both beauty spots and blemishes are exaggerated.

e) Are you prepared to take a position that supports the administration's viewpoint but that may upset special interest groups with which you normally align?

4. Assess Your Willingness to Make Personal Sacrifices.

a) What Will An Appointment Mean for my Lifestyle and Work/Life Balance?

Most political appointees find the hours long and the pace intense. It is important to consider how having an extremely demanding job—and being in the public spotlight—might affect you and your family's lifestyle.

b) Am I (and my family) Willing to Live in the D.C. Metro Area and Can I/We Afford to Live There?

While some political appointments reside in other cities, the majority are based in Washington, D.C. Information about housing, schools, taxes, and other important considerations related to living in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia can be accessed at the following websites:

Washington, D.C.: http://www.dc.gov/
Maryland: http://www.md.gov/portal/server.pt?
Virginia: http://www.virginia.gov/cmsportal3/

c) Will I Have to Take a Pay Cut?

The Office of Personnel Management provides a summary of current pay levels on its website.


5. Prepare for the Application and Interview Process

a) Contact the White House – Get Noticed

Remember, if you're being considered for a PAS position, NEVER talk to the press.

If you seem like a potential candidate, the transition team and incoming administration will contact you and ask you to apply online and fill out the necessary forms. However, there are far more people seeking these jobs than positions available. You should be your own strongest advocate to land a presidential appointment. Tap any connection you may have, no matter how indirect.

A large and fairly new part of the process is to ask all candidates (whether senior or junior) to submit a general application at the following site: https://apply.whitehouse.gov/

b) Interview with the leadership at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and with the agency's Secretary or Deputy Secretary.

All initial interviews are running through the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO).

c) Fill out additional paperwork.

Be prepared for frustrating delays, especially when the FBI (or another investigative entity) is conducting its background investigation.

Fill out forms expeditiously. If you let them gather dust on your desk, you are delaying your own appointment.

Be truthful and accurate on all of your forms as you will be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or another Federal entity. Any lie will likely end your Presidential appointment prospects.

If the transition team and incoming administration is still interested in you, they will ask you fill out additional forms depending on the position you are applying for, possibly including (SF 86 & SF 278).

d) Be prepared to wait.

Something we can't emphasize enough is that this process takes time. Especially in the second term when many political appointments are currently filled, the process is a conversation focused on matching the best person for their best job.



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Additional Steps for Presidential Appointees


The SF 278 – Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Report

The most difficult form is the SF 278, the financial disclosure form for the executive branch, which you must update each year you work for the government. It is a complex form that requires detailed information regarding income, assets, and liabilities; the form demands financial information that few people have at their fingertips.

The majority of nominees successfully tackle the financial disclosure and other paperwork on their own. If you have complex or extensive financial holdings, however, you may need help — and it may be a significant financial expense. In the past, some nominees with considerable wealth or complicated business holdings or severance arrangements have hired a private attorney or accountant to help them navigate this process.


The SF 86 – Questionnaire for National Security Positions


The SF 86 must be filled out when applying for a national security position and requires
very detailed and specific information on where you have lived, worked, and gone to
school over the last ten years. Additionally, you will need to provide information about
your affiliations, foreign contacts, mental health, drug use, foreign travel, friends, and
relatives. It is a felony to knowingly falsify or conceal a material fact on the SF 86
questionnaire, which is used by the FBI and other investigative services as the basis for
your background investigation and for granting your national security clearance. The penalty is a fine up to $10,000, five years in prison, or both.

After you submit your SF 86 form, your background investigation will begin. You will be interviewed and asked about your responses on the SF 86 form. Your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers also may be contacted regarding your background investigation.

Prepare a response to their questions about this process.



e) Additional steps for Presidential Appointments Requiring Senate Confirmation

i) Vetting by the Office of the Counsel to the President

If The Office of Presidential Personnel and the agency you are applying for jointly agree that they want you to be vetted, they will contact you to schedule interviews (process continue) or they will not call (end of the process).

The financial disclosure form (SF-278) will be reviewed by the appropriate persons on the transition team and incoming administration and by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). OGE lawyers will analyze the nominee's holdings, discuss potential conflicts, and propose remedies such as divestitures, recusals, blind trusts, and, in some instances, waivers. The nominee will agree in writing to carry out the recommended actions, usually within 90 days of being sworn in.

ii) Interview with the Office of the Counsel to the President.

Hold nothing back and be thoroughly truthful when interviewing and completing forms. Being exposed later will likely jeopardize your chances of being nominated.

The Office of the Counsel to the President serves as a main gatekeeper to the Presidential nomination process. The lawyers in this office will build a dossier on your life. They will sift all or your information through filters to make sure that nothing you have done could prove an embarrassment to you or the administration and that there are no legal or ethical barriers to your taking on the proposed duties.

If the Office of the Counsel to the President approves your nomination, they will notify the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

The Office of Presidential Personnel will prepare an appointment memo for the President's approval. If the Office of the Counsel to the President does not approve of your nomination, you will not be appointed.

iii) If the President approves your appointment, the White House Press Office will announce that the White House intends to nominate you The White House Executive Clerks Office will deliver your nomination to the Senate.

iv) Senate Confirmation Process

The White House will send your nomination to the Senate. The appropriate committee will ask you to fill out more paperwork as they review your nomination. Be prepared for a long and sometimes arbitrary wait for Senate confirmation.

For a full review of the Senate confirmation process, please refer to the Survivor's Guide. A full list of Senate committees that handle nominations can also be found in the Survivor's Guide.

v) Fill Out New Forms Presented By the Senate Committee.

Whatever you do, make sure your responses are your own; do not cut and paste what the department tells you into the Senate questionnaire.

The legislative affairs office of your future department may provide you with a briefing book. The book will likely detail the agency's key issues, assist you with preparing responses to policy questions, and offer advice on how to deal with individual Senators.

vi) Prepare for Your Hearing and Meet with Senators and Staffers in Advance.

Nominees should keep a low profile and avoid giving interviews or making speeches. Senators want to hear from you in private and at your hearing before they start reading your views in the newspapers.

Although the House does not vote on your appointment, House committee staff work closely with Senate committee staff and may know ways to nudge your nomination along.

Again, you can turn to the legislative affairs office of your future department to assist you with this process.

Many nominees are surprised to learn how much their success in winning a confirmation depends upon their own initiative. Unless you are ticketed for a high profile position, you will have to function as your own chief advocate.

Meet with every Senator on the committee that is considering your nomination. Also, reach out to your home state Senators and ask that they introduce you at your hearing. Finally, it is wise to cultivate a relationship with the staff of the committee to which you are appealing.

vii) Testify at your hearing.

Don't be evasive or uncooperative; the less you talk and the more you listen, the better.

The Survivor's Guide's lists tips and sample committee questions.

The Committee will vote on whether to approve your nomination. If they approve it, your nomination will go to the full Senate for their vote.


viii) Await final Senate confirmation.

Your nomination may be:

Confirmed

Withdrawn

Not confirmed

Not acted on in time, so the White House may make a Presidential recess appointment*

*A recess appointment occurs when the Senate is out of session. This type of
appointment can last until the end of the two-year session of Congress
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Resources

A Survivor's Guide for Presidential Nominees and its interactive companion, the Presidential Appointee Roadmap, is a guide for anyone seeking a nominated position in the administration during the 08/09 Presidential transition. The Guide answers questions a nominee might have upon being asked to serve. It draws upon the experiences of senior officials who served in six administrations over the past three decades, as well as on numerous reports by academics and blue ribbon commissions.

The Plum Book, published by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government Reform alternately after each Presidential election, lists over 7,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment, nationwide. Data covers positions such as agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials.

The Prune Book, published by the Council for Excellence in Government, serves as a resource for presidential appointees. It describes the positions appointees hold and the challenges they face. The books are distinguished by job profiles that give firsthand insight into such complex realities as managing the federal government for results and the appointments process itself.

Boards and Commissions sheet, with descriptions.

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