Every four years, just after the Presidential election, the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, commonly known as the Plum Book, is published, alternately, by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government Reform. The Plum Book is used to identify presidentially appointed positions within the Federal Government. The register now lists over 8,000 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.
For the State Department, the top jobs at Foggy Bottom, and all chief of mission jobs from Kabul to Harare are now open for hire. Although the career ambassadors also have to turn in their resignations, in practice, all will presumably transition seamlessly into the next administration as they have done in the past. For non-career ambassadors, however (who are political appointees), January 20 is when they’re officially out of their jobs. The good news is those jobs will be vacant. The bad news is, there are career diplomats waiting in the wings for all those jobs. But not to worry. My sense is, the new administration may lower the number of political appointees to ambassadorial positions but the practice is not going away. Besides, can you really imagine a career diplomat entertaining in London or Paris with Uncle Sam's tiny representation allowance?
The 2008 Plum Book which inventory all positions that will soon be vacated by the Bush administration and open for hire can be downloaded in one single file here or you can also download the State-relevant files below:
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The Plum Book (Excerpt) State Department Positions – 11 pages
The Plum Book (Excerpt) Legend – 2 pages
The Plum Book (United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions) 2008 Edition – 1.26 MB, 210 pages
Good luck if you are job hunting!