(NewsSpace.com) – The President’s Cabinet is comprised of several high-level officials who are responsible for various roles in the government. When something happens to one of them, it’s critical that the White House is informed. A recent event involving Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin caught the White House off guard, and it is now demanding a review of Cabinet protocols.
On January 1, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin went to the hospital, where he remained for several days. Normally, this isn’t cause for concern, especially since there are contingency plans in place for coverage when one is out of commission. However, it seems the Pentagon failed to notify the White House not only that Austin was ill—he ended up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)—but that he was in the hospital. This set off a firestorm of activity and media reports.
As the days progressed, more news came out about Austin’s condition. In early December, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. On December 22, he went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he had a prostatectomy. He was home the following day. During this time, operational tasks were transferred to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, but she was not made aware of Austin’s surgical procedure. Neither was the White House.
Things went downhill for Austin on New Year’s Day when he fell ill with a urinary tract infection. He entered Walter Reed again for treatment. Yet again, the White House was not notified. In fact, Austin’s staffers don’t learn until the following day. On January 4, President Joe Biden is advised of his defense secretary’s plight.
Due to the delay in notifying the White House, it immediately took action. Chief of Staff Jeff Zients sent out a memo to all of the Cabinet secretaries with the subject line: Cabinet notifications. Zients informs recipients that the White House is now reviewing all agency protocols centered on delegation of authority, asking each Cabinet secretary to send the White House their protocols by Friday, January 12.
The goal of the review is to ensure that, in the event that tasks must be delegated, both the White House Chief of Staff and the Offices of Cabinet Affairs are notified. This must happen twice: once when the need is anticipated and again at the time of delegation. The memo listed criteria that the protocols must follow, and if they are found to be lacking, they must be updated to come into compliance.
Despite the dust-up and the calls for Austin’s resignation, the White House has said it has no plans to part ways with him.
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