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Every four years, just after the Presidential election, "United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions" is published. It is commonly known as the "Plum Book" and is alternately published between the House and Senate.

The Plum Book is a listing of over 8,000 civil service leadership and support positions (filled and vacant) in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointments, or in other words by direct appointment.

These positions include agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials. Many positions have duties which support Administration policies and programs. The people holding these positions usually have a close and confidential relationship with the agency head or other key officials.

Positions in the Plum Book include the following:

  • Executive Schedule and salary-equivalent positions paid at the rates established for Levels I through V of the Executive Schedule.
  • Senior Executive Service "General" positions (i.e., those positions which may be filled by a career, non-career, or limited appointment)
  • 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
  • Other confidential or policy-determining 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
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