With much of President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet still unnamed, it's understandable that speculation should focus on who helms the different agencies. After all, running cabinet departments is a big job, and the personalities Obama has nominated so far -- New York Fed President Timothy Geithner, for instance -- are politically larger than life. So are those whom Obama is expected to name, like Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.
But all the focus on who will sit in Obama's cabinet overlooks a basic fact of governance. Much, if not most, of the actual substance of policy -- from its detailed conception to its experimentation to its implementation -- doesn't come from the heads of the federal agencies. It comes from deep in their guts.