The White House is deploying a network of advisers to the top of federal agencies as a direct line to stay on top of Cabinet officials.
The White House is installing senior aides atop major federal agencies to shadow the administration’s Cabinet secretaries, creating a direct line with loyalists who can monitor and shape White House goals across the federal bureaucracy.
The aides chosen by the White House — given the title of senior adviser in each agency — have already been responsible for hiring at some departments and crafting the blueprint of Trump policy before the Cabinet members win Senate confirmation to take office. They have worked with congressional aides, lobbyists and others seeking influence in the new administration.
The arrangement, described by four people involved in the transition planning, appears designed to help the White House maintain control over its priorities despite pledging to give Cabinet secretaries unusual autonomy. Having senior advisers reporting to both the agency chiefs and the White House could spur early tensions and create conflicts with that pledge of autonomy.
“They want to keep kind of a West Wing-infused attachment to the agencies,” said a person familiar with the arrangement. “There will be tentacles from the White House to these agencies. … The effort is to demonstrate that all points lead back to certain people,” such as Donald Trump’s son-in-law, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, or chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Another person involved in the transition said Trump’s team wanted a “real strong line at the agencies to have someone monitoring and directing what they’re doing.”