Political Appointees-Senate Confirmed for Inspector Capstone Project

Excerpt from Capstone Project :

Filling these top positions are cumbersome and, occasionally, controversial. Appointment tenure takes time to decide and may often be short leading to confusion within the administration itself, to inaction in decision and work, rapid turn-around and modification in decision making, and confusion.

Using data from the Office of Personnel Management, O'Connell (2009) observed that senate apportioned positions were empty on a mean of one-quarter of the time over the five administrations (spanning from Carter to Bush). O'Connell (2009) recommends deliberate research on underlying problems and active work that is intended to ameliorate these problems. Better still, says O'Connell (2009), are policy reforms that would reduce the amount and duration of vacancies in these senate positions. These reforms would include better training for newer officials, and advance planning by the White House for filling positions, as well as winning commitments from appointees to serve a minimal of two to four years. (O'Connell, 2009).

In the meantime, reforms are in the offing. Friel (2011) reported that the senate committee intends to be more selective in its choice, pruning out hundreds of low-level executive branch nominations from its selection procedure. There are also plans in the offing permitting the president to put through his choice of appointing hundreds of part-time federal board and commission members and full time officials in non-controversial positions without waiting for approval from relevant senators.

Not everyone is satisfied with these steps, however, and critics, such as Light, an expert on the federal bureaucracy and a professor of public service at New York University, said that the drastic situation calls for more. According to Light (quoted by Friel, 2011), lawmakers should cut the number of presidential appointments, which has swelled to more than 8,000, 22 new positions having been created in the last two years alone.

Much of the delay occurs, too, due to the vetting process, the FBI background check, and some executive bureaucracy activities that take far more time than the actual confirmation process. Critics call for ways to facilitate and streamline these procedures.

Although an insignificant step, however, this motion of circumventing senatorial permission in appointing nominees to administrative positions could lead to further more wide -- ranging and additional steps that would speed-up the confirmation process and, perhaps, ensure that vacancies are more rapidly and frequently filled and more infrequently open.

Reviewing Mr. Edwards's qualifications was also an eye-opener to me. Not only did his education stop short with a Masters, but he possessed no relevant political experience or educational qualifications as far as I saw. One would think that occupying a position as responsible as that of Homeland Security would demand professional training related to terrorism, politics, and related subjects. Mr. Edwards seemed to have none of this.

Attainment of his responsible position could have been, most likely, by privilege of knowing the President and, certainly, by kayaking to his political ideology. As said, President and Congress have launched these key positions as a means with which to control these administrative agencies. The positions serve as 'police patrol' and the appointees are committed and have some familiarity with the law. Presumably, Mr. Edwards has these characteristics.

Both positions, that of DHS and HUD manifest the problem of the President relying on the senate for approval of his selection. The position of IG in the HUD is still unoccupied, whilst that of IG in the DHS was only filled last month. Imminent reforms might reverse some of these problems for the President thereby achieving benefit for the public in that decisions will be stable and consistent. On the other hand, the President check will be removed somewhat by considering that reforms will only apply to non-controversial positions; this may not be much of a problem. It may, in fact, represent, as Light put it, a small step forward but a very significant step at that.


*Dull, M. Roberts, P.S., Sang, O.C., & Keeney, M.S. (2009). Appointee Confirmation and Tenure: Politics, Policy, and Professionalism in Federal Agency Leadership, 1989- 2009

DHS, Homeland security, Acting Inspector General and Deputy Inspector General: Charles K. Edwards. Retrieved on 3/6/2011 from: http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/structure/biography_0112.shtml

DHS, Homeland security, Office of Inspector General. Retrieved on 3/6/2011 from: http://www.dhs.gov/xoig/index.shtml

*Friel B. (Jan. 31, 2011) Senators Working to Scale Back Chamber's Confirmation Duties. CQ Today Online News

HUD, OIG key principle staff. Retrieved on 3/6/2011 from: http://www.hud.gov/offices/oig/about/keystaff.cfm

HUD: Mission. Retrieved on 3/6/2011 from: http://www.hud.gov/offices/oig/about/mission.cfm

*O'Connell, a.J., (2009) Vacant offices: Delays in staffing top agency positions

* Roberts, P.S., Dull, M. & Choi, S.O. (2010). Guarding the Guardians: Oversight Appointees and the Search for Accountability in U.S. Federal Agencies.

The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, P.L. 105-277

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