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For new federal cabinet nominees, so much to do in so little time

The average time between cabinet nomination and confirmation is about 40 days. And once appointed, most cabinet members spend less than four years in their roles.

First-term confirmed US cabinet appointees average about 40 days between nomination and confirmation, and less than four years of tenure in office. (chart)

Chart: US cabinet appointees have less than 40 days on average to prepare to lead—and once they're confirmed, their average tenure is less than four years.

Averages for first-term confirmed appointees, Reagan through Trump administrations
Cabinet positions in order of presidential succession Time between nomination and confirmation, days Time in office for a cabinet member confirmed in a president's first term, years
State 38 3.0
Treasury 47 3.0
Defense 28 3.9
Justice 43 4.8
Interior 36 4.3
Agriculture 36 4.2
Commerce 35 3.8
Labor 40 4.0
Health and Human Services 46 3.9
Housing and Urban development 37 4.9
Transportation 35 3.8
Energy 33 3.5
Education 27 5.7
Veterans affairs1 41 3.7
Homeland Security2 39 2.6
Average 37 3.9


1The Department of Veterans Affairs became a cabinet-level position in 1988; the first time a director was confirmed in a president's first term was in 1989.

2The Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002; the first time a director was confirmed in a president's first term was in 2009.

Source: United States Senate; current as of December 2020

McKinsey & Company

To read the article, see “Navigating the first 100 days: Lessons from former US cabinet members,” January 14, 2021.