Press Releases

Sen. Carper Commends Senate Effort to Reform Presidential Nominations Process

Senate adopts Carper Amendment to streamline agency positions; Bill includes Carper proposal to establish a fixed 5 year term for the Census Bureau Director

Jun 29 2011

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) commended the Senate effort to reform the presidential nominations process, including the passage of three of his proposals to help reform the process.

Sen. Carper's first proposal was adopted as an amendment to The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011. This amendment calls for a comprehensive review of non-Senate confirmed presidentially-appointed federal positions to determine whether or not the number of these positions has grown too large. Sen. Carper's amendment would commission a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to provide recommendations on how to further reduce presidentially-appointed positions and to make the nominations process even more efficient. For example, the study might advise an agency to eliminate an appointed position or convert a certain appointed positions to a career position, which would not require Senate confirmation.

"Over the years, we have seen the backlog that has developed in the Senate as a result of the long list of nominations that comes before us," said Sen. Carper. "That backlog usually results in a significant amount of time to process the nominations or no action at all. The problem too often leads to a situation I call 'executive branch Swiss cheese' - too many executive branch positions left vacant because of the Senate's flawed confirmation process. In the end, the taxpayers suffer because we lose a layer of accountability when we have vacancies and appointment logjams. This legislation will ensure that the most qualified candidates are confirmed to the highest positions in the executive branch without unnecessary delay or burden to them or American taxpayers."

This amendment is part of Sen. Carper's broader effort to eliminate the multitude of executive branch positions left vacant because of the Senate confirmation process. Sen. Carper has a second proposal, introduced as an amendment to S. Res. 116 – a package of Senate rules changes that will also help reform the nomination process – that requires that each Senate Committee thoroughly review and justify the creation of any new presidentially-appointed position within a federal government entity. The amendment would also encourage committees to seek alternatives to creating new presidential appointees, such as creating a career position. The Senate is now considering S. Res. 116 and is expected to pass the rules changes later this week.

Sen. Carper's third proposal, also included in The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, establishes a fixed five-year term for the Census Bureau Director. With the 10-year decennial cycle split into two five-year phases – planning and operations – this change will ensure continuity across administrations, making the Census Bureau more accountable, less partisan, less costly and ultimately more effective.

"Censuses by their nature cannot be fully designed and executed in a short period of time, but the 2010 Census experienced several changes in leadership and vast spans of time with temporary directors," said Sen. Carper, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Census. "This lack of consistent leadership throughout the planning process forced the Census Bureau to redesign the 2010 Census very late in the decade, adding billions to its total costs. My amendment establishes continuity across administrations in order to get the best Census count for less money. Moreover, it would rightly treat the Census directorship as a scientific position, rather than a political position.

"Just one year after the 2010 enumeration and with Census 2020 nine years down the road, now is the time to put a leadership structure in place that can help advance needed change, produce results, mitigate risks and control costs over the long run," continued Sen. Carper. "I'd like to thank my colleagues for recognizing the importance of this amendment and I will continue work to see to this legislation signed into law."

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