Department of Defense Political Appointments: Positions and Process

By Cheryl Y. Marcum; Lauren R. Sager Weinstein et al. | Go to book overview

4.
Conclusion

For this report, we collected and analyzed existing DoD data on presidential appointees with Senate confirmation and on political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. We reviewed the literature on the appointees and the appointment process. From these sources we identified a number of trends.


Numbers and Layers of PAS Positions Increased over
Time

The number of PAS positions in the DoD (including the three military departments) increased from 12 in 1947 (of which 11 were military department PAS positions) to a high of 47 in 1993. As of October 17, 1998, Title 10 authorizes 44 PAS positions in the DoD (22 for the OSD and 22 for the three military departments combined).1

Position titles reflect the onset and explosion of PAS layers in the OSD that Light noted in his 1995 assessment of post-New Deal government growth (Light, 1995). In contrast, these layers are absent from the military departments. The most noticeable growth in OSD PAS positions has been in the long-standing Assistant Secretary of Defense positions and since 1977, in two new administrative layers— Under Secretary and Deputy Under Secretary. By 1994, these new layers contained four Under Secretary of Defense positions and two Deputy Under Secretary of Defense positions. Consequently, the Secretaries of Defense during the Clinton administration have had more and thicker layers of advisers than did their predecessors.

Although the intention behind adding layers of political appointees to the OSD may have been to allow the Secretary of Defense to better manage and control the DoD, several authors argue that in fact the opposite occurs. Light maintains that a diffusion of accountability ensues with more layers of oversight (Light, 1995). Pfiffner (1987) argues that the balance should be shifted back toward fewer presidential appointees, who are best at setting goals, and more civil servants, who are best at designing programs to implement the goals.

____________________
1
P.L. 105–261 (October 17, 1998) reduced the number of authorized Assistant Secretary of Defense positions from ten to nine, thereby reducing the number of authorized PAS positions in the DoD from 45 to 44. Official OSD title reports reflected 45 PAS positions as of May 1999.

-41-

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Department of Defense Political Appointments: Positions and Process
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Summary xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Acronyms xix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Trends in DOD Political Appointees 3
  • 3 - The Appointment Process and Rules Governing Political Appointees 19
  • 4 - Conclusion 41
  • A - An Overview of the Federal Workforce System 45
  • B - DOD Pas Position Data Sources 49
  • C - Pas Position Titles in Osd from 1947 to 1999 by Function 53
  • D - Chronology of Pas Positions Assigned to Osd Functional Areas 69
  • E - Authorized Osd Pas Positions by Function (May 31, 1999) 71
  • References 73
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