Department of Defense Political Appointments: Positions and Process

Department of Defense Political Appointments: Positions and Process

Department of Defense Political Appointments: Positions and Process

Department of Defense Political Appointments: Positions and Process

Synopsis

In 1998, the Defense Science Board Task Force on Human Resources Strategy was established for the purpose of evaluating the Department of Defense's (DoD's) capacity to attract and retain both civilian and military personnel. As part of this evaluation, RAND was asked to study the growth of political appointment positions within the DoD as well as to examine the appointment and confirmation process that potential political appointees face. Tasked with reviewing relevant DoD data, the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), acting in support of the Defense Science Board Task Force, found that the number of DoD positions requiring Senate confirmation has grown significantly over the past two decades. The study also revealed that the functional responsibilities of such positions have narrowed while their vacancy rates have increased. In assessing the literature, the NDRI found that disincentives exist in the political appointment and confirmation process -- namely, requirements that candidates disclose a range of personal and financial information; requirements to comply with conflict-of-interest regulations that may require divestiture of stock holdings; and requirements to comply with extensive post employment restrictions. Additionally, the length of the appointment and confirmation process itself may serve as a disincentive to potential appointees.

Excerpt

On September 15, 1998, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology directed the establishment of a Defense Science Board Task Force on Human Resources Strategy. He chartered the task force to review trends and opportunities to improve DoD's capacity “to attract and retain civilian and military personnel with the necessary motivation and intellectual capabilities” to serve and lead within the Department. the task force then asked the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI) for analytic support. Specifically, ndri was asked to undertake two larger tasks: (1) to collect and analyze existing DoD data on presidential appointees with Senate confirmation and on political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation; and (2) to review the literature both on the appointees and on the appointment process, focusing on the deterrents that potential appointees may encounter. This report documents the results of this work, some of which was incorporated into the task force's final report, which was released in February 2000 by the Office of the. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

This research was conducted for the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of RAND's National Defense Research Institute. ndri is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, and the defense agencies.

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