Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

How to Get Government Moving. (Politics & Government)

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

How to Get Government Moving. (Politics & Government)

Article excerpt

"Our Tottering Confirmation Process" by Paul C Light in The Public Interest (Spring 2002), 1112 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036.

When Ceorge W. Bush took office in January 2001, he had some 500 cabinet and subcabinet positions requiring Senate confirmation to fill. A year later, about one-third of the posts remained vacant. The problem? An appointments process that includes too many nominees and subjects them to too much screening, contends Light, director of governmental studies at the Brookings Institution.

In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made do with 51 Senate-confirmed appointees: 10 cabinet secretaries, three under secretaries, and 38 assistant secretaries. Bush's 500 include 14 cabinet secretaries, 23 deputy secretaries, 41 under secretaries, 212 assistant secretaries, and some 200 others. "Presidents seem to have embraced the notion that more leaders equals more leadership," Light quips.

Extensive Federal Bureau of Investigation background investigations have added to the delays. …

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