Press Releases

President Signs Bill to Reform Presidential Nominations Process

Bill includes Carper proposal to further streamline presidential appointments and to establish a fixed 5 year term for the Census Bureau Director

Aug 23 2012

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, celebrated a newly-enacted law to reform the presidential nominations process as well as the passage of his proposals that will enable consistent leadership at the helm of the Census Bureau and require a review of all presidentially-appointed federal positions that do not require Senate confirmation. The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, which was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and cosponsored by Sen. Carper, reduces the number of executive nominations that require Senate confirmation, making it less likely that leadership positions go unfilled for months or even years as they have in the past. In addition to Sen. Carper, the overall measure was co-sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Jack Reed (D- R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Jon Kyl (R Ariz.). President Obama signed the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 into law earlier this month.

"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. Unfortunately, the Senate sometimes takes 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 new law will streamline the nominations process and 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."

To enhance the new streamlined process, the law contains a provision, introduced by Sen. Carper, that 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 measure 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.

Also included in the new law is another amendment introduced by Sen. Carper that establishes a fixed 5-year term for the Census Bureau Director, helping to ensure better planning and implementation of the decennial census and reduce costly mistakes. Under Sen. Carper's provision, the 10-year decennial cycle will be 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. "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. This new law 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. Two years after the 2010 enumeration and with Census 2020 only eight 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. I thank my colleagues and President Obama for recognizing the importance of this measure and I look forward to working with the Census Bureau as it continues its preparations for 2020."