Donald Trump Keeps Missing His Own Deadlines

The president has been calling on agencies to complete reviews and administrative actions. Deadlines continue to crop up and compliance has been scattershot at best.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 3: U.S. President Donald Trump signs Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House, including an order to review the Dodd-Frank Wall Street to roll back financial regulations of the Obama era February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci - Pool/Getty Images)
President Trump signs Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on February 3, 2017. Photo: Aude Guerrucci/Pool/Getty Images

Federal agencies continue to blow deadlines laid down by President Trump in his executive orders and memoranda.

The president has been issuing orders calling on agencies to complete reviews and administrative actions since his earliest days in office. Deadlines for these actions continue to crop up, and compliance has been scattershot at best.

By the latest numbers, 36 deadlines have passed. Only 18 of them have definitively been met, exactly 50 percent; the others either have not been met, or The Intercept could get no response from federal agencies confirming completion.

The loose compliance toward deadlines that President Trump imposed himself suggests a lack of attention to the details of governing, or a misunderstanding in the monumental nature of the task. It’s a data point about the competency of the administration, and not a good one.

Even some of the actions the Trump administration was able to accomplish came in late. For example, on June 23 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report detailing adjustments to immigration status for foreign nationals. This was to comply with a March 6 memorandum from President Trump requiring quarterly updates. But the deadline for the report was June 4, 19 days before DHS got around to it.

Reports from five federal agencies on international cybersecurity priorities, due June 25 as per Trump’s cybersecurity executive order, have yet to be confirmed as completed. The Department of Defense, in an email to The Intercept, said on June 28 that they are “finalizing staffing of the report and … consulting with the White House.” DOD added that the report would be classified when they manage to finish it.

The Office of National Drug Policy was supposed to deliver interim recommendations on combating the opioid crisis on June 27. They did not do so. The office told The Intercept that they needed “more time to develop the report.” Final findings and recommendations are due on October 1, though the ONDCP could ask for an extension.

The Commerce Department and President Trump also missed a deadline of June 30 for publishing a report on the national security implications of steel imports. The Wall Street Journal reported that it wasn’t released due to “unanticipated complexities” in carrying out the potential tariffs on imported steel that would accompany the findings. “There’s a just a lot of analysis. It’s a bigger deal than they originally thought,” said one unnamed source to WSJ.

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said in a briefing that he was “not sure” when the Commerce Department would issue the report, though it’s in “draft form or near-final form.” The White House has subsequently talked about holding the report until after G20 meetings in Germany this week.

Other reports have not been confirmed as delivered to the president, including a Treasury Department report on identifying and reducing tax burdens, and a Commerce Department/U.S. Trade Representative omnibus report on “significant trade deficits.” There are indications that the latter report is under review at the White House, but no public release has been made available.

Indeed, the troubling trend of reports to the president mandated under executive order not being issued for public consumption has continued. Of the 16 reports to the president so far due, only two have been made public: a rather thin interim report from the Department of the Interior on national monuments, and a partial report on financial regulations from the Treasury Department.

Despite missing deadlines left and right, Trump has added more. An executive order reviving the National Space Council requires annual reports with recommendations for space policy, starting June 30 of next year. And Trump’s memorandum on Cuba policy from June 16 contains four separate deadlines, including two due July 16 meant to adjust regulations on transactions with, and tourism to, Cuba.

The Supreme Court allowed a limited version of the travel ban to take effect June 28, which restarts the timeline on a number of reviews and other actions that were previously under injunction. For instance, a 20-day “worldwide review” of foreign country’s travel policies is now due July 18.

Here’s how the administration record is shaping up:

Top photo: President Trump signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Feb. 3, 2017.

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