As President-elect Biden begins assembling his new team, personnel decisions play an important role in what the next four years will look like for the maritime industry. As speculation begins to mount, a question we see regularly is how long it will take for the president to appoint a new head of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD).
The short answer is not any time soon. If past is prologue, it will be many months before a new administrator is confirmed. In the chart below, we detail the nomination and confirmation timelines of the last six MARAD administrators during the first term of an incoming president:
Admiral Mark Buzby had the fastest confirmation in recent history, despite having to wait nearly nine months after the 2016 election to take command at MARAD.
The longest wait for a MARAD Administrator occurred during the first term of the Obama presidency. David Matsuda was formally nominated to the post more than a year after the 2008 election, and in the end wouldn’t be confirmed until nearly 600 days after the election.
It should be noted, that in addition to those listed, several MARAD administrators have navigated the nomination process in the second term of a presidency; including Paul “Chip” Jaenichen (2014), Sean Connaughton (2006), Clyde Hart (1998), and John Gaughan (1985).
The new MARAD administrator will have big shoes to fill in replacing Admiral Buzby, but despite a slow-developing process, the agencies maintain order and continuity at the staff level from top to bottom. But if history holds, don’t expect a rapid transition at MARAD.