turkey farm

A government agency or department staffed primarily with political appointments and other patronage hires.

A Vanderbilt University study notes that “In every administration certain agencies acquire reputations as ‘turkey farms’ or ‘dead pools.’ Positions in these agencies get filled with less qualified administrators, often by presidents under pressure to find jobs for campaign staff, key donors, or well-connected job-seekers.”

After the Federal Emergency Management Agency was unprepared for the 1989 San Francisco earthquake and Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew in 1989 and 1992, a federal report noted the agency “is widely viewed as a political dumping ground, ‘a turkey farm’…where large numbers of positions exist that can be conveniently and quietly filled by political appointment.”