About the Plum Book

About the Plum Book2016-12-15T19:16:51+00:00

What’s Inside?

The pages of this purple-colored book outline “plum” policymaking and support positions within the U.S. government that are eligible to be filled by political appointment. The Plum Book includes both politically appointed and Career Civil Service positions for a total of more than 8,000 Federal government positions.

The Plum Book was first published in 1952, when the Eisenhower Administration was voted into office after 20 years of Democratic administrations. It gets its name from its plum coloring and lists leadership and support positions in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal government that may be filled by political appointment, nationwide. This includes positions such as agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to them.

From the Preamble of the Plum Book

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 Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

This publication contains data (as of June 30, 2012) on 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 (e.g., positions such as agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials). The duties of many such positions may involve advocacy of Administration policies and programs and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency head or other key officials.

Following are the major categories of positions listed:

  • Executive Schedule and salary-equivalent positions paid at the rates established for levels I through V of the Executive Schedule;
  • Senior Executive Service (SES) ‘‘General’’ positions;
  • Senior Foreign Service positions;
  • Schedule C positions excepted from the competitive service by the President, or by the Director, Office of Personnel Management, because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties; and
  • Other positions at the GS–14 and above level excepted from the competitive civil service by law because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties.

Position Location

Listed are the cities, States/Provinces and foreign countries in which the positions are located.
Countries and cities (or other subdivisions) are shown for overseas posts. Note that ‘‘Washington, DC’’ includes positions in the entire metropolitan area and therefore may include certain cities and counties in the States of Maryland and Virginia.

Position Title

Listed are the position titles and the names of the organizations in which they are located.

Name of Incumbent

Listed are the names of individuals serving under other than career appointments. The phrase ‘‘Career Incumbent’’ is shown for positions encumbered by career appointees. The term ‘‘Vacant’’ is shown for positions that were not occupied on June 30, 2012, the ‘‘as of’’ date of this publication.

Note the law requires ‘‘member’’ positions in certain agencies (e.g., boards, committees, and commissions) be filled on a bipartisan basis. For such positions, the following letter codes are shown in parentheses following the name of the incumbent:

(D) = Democrat (I) = Independent (R) = Republican

Type of Appointment

The letter codes that denote the type of appointment under which the position is categorized.

Appointment Code What It Stands For
PAS Presidential Appointment with Senate Confirmation
PA Presidential Appointment (without Senate Confirmation)
CA Career Appointment
NA Noncareer Appointment
EA Limited Emergency Appointment
TA Limited Term Appointment
SC Schedule C Excepted Appointment
XS Appointment Excepted by Statute

Pay Plan

Listed are letter codes that denote the Federal salary schedule or pay system under which the position incumbents are going to be paid.

AD = Administratively Determined Rates
ES = Senior Executive Service
EX = Executive Schedule
FA = Foreign Service Chiefs of Mission
FE = Senior Foreign Service
FP = Foreign Service Specialist
GS = General SchedulePD = Daily Pay Rate* (per diem)
SL = Senior Level
TM = Federal Housing Finance Board Merit Pay
VH = Farm Credit Administration Pay Plan
WC = Without Compensation*
OT = Other Pay Plan* (all those not listed separately)

*Although not pay plans, these codes are shown for informational purposes.

Level, Grade, or Pay

Listed are numerical and letter codes that denote the level, grade or salary of the position encumbered:

  • Levels I through V of the Executive Schedule
  • Grades 1 through 15 of the General Schedule
  • Annual Salary in Dollars
  • Daily Pay Rate in Dollars

If there is no entry in this column, the position does not have an established level, grade, or pay rate. For example, the pay rate for Senior Executive Service and Senior Level positions is ‘‘personal,’’ i.e., attached to the incumbent, not the position. The pay rate for each new appointee is set by the appointing authority (usually the agency head) on a case-by-case basis.


Listed are the terms or durations of the appointment in years. If there is no entry in this column, the appointment has no fixed term.


Listed are the expiration dates for time-limited appointments. If there is no entry in this column, the incumbent is not serving under a time-limited appointment. However, many member positions on agency advisory boards, councils, and commissions are filled initially for a fixed term, but the incumbents may (and often do) serve beyond the expiration date until they are replaced. In such cases, no expiration date is shown.

To look at Plum Books going back to 1996, go to http://www.gpoaccess.gov/plumbook/index.html.  Note that this is the online version, so these do not have a plum-colored cover.

Ready to get started?

Search for Opportunities