CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, July 31, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. S. 679 was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on March 30, 2011, and was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Senate approved S. 679 on June 29, 2012 by a vote of 79 – 20.
S. 679 would eliminate the requirement of Senate approval (advice and consent) of specified presidentially-appointed positions in federal agencies and departments, including the following:
The bill would also eliminate the positions of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information and for Public Affair and eliminate the requirement of Senate approval of all appointments to and promotions for the Commissioned Officer Corps in the Public Health Service and in NOAA.
S. 679 would prohibit the legislation from resulting in any such position being placed in the Senior Executive Service or altering compensation for such position. The bill would expand the requirements for the appointment of a Director of the Census, including that such appointment be made without regard to political affiliation and that the appointee have a demonstrated ability in managing large organizations and experience in the collection, analysis, and use of statistical data. The bill would limit the Director’s term to five years, beginning on December 1, 2012, and would prohibit a Director from serving more than two full terms. S. 679 would authorize the President to remove the Director from office after communicating in writing the reasons for removal to Congress not later than 60 days before the removal.
S. 679 would establish the Working Group on Streamlining Paperwork for Executive Nominations (Working Group) to study and report to the President and specified congressional committees on the streamlining of paperwork required for executive nominations and review the impact of background investigations requirements on the appointments process. The bill would require that the report of the Working Group include: (1) recommendations for the streamlining of paperwork required for executive nominations, and (2) a detailed plan for the creation and implementation of an electronic system for collecting and distributing background information from nominees for positions which require Senate approval. S. 679 would also require that such electronic system provide for less of a burden on potential nominees for positions which require Senate approval, faster delivery of background information, fewer errors of omission, and a single, searchable form (Smart Form) that will be free to a nominee, will be easy to use, and will streamline the process of vetting a nominee and tracking information provided by a nominee.
S. 679 would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study and report to Congress and the President on presidentially-appointed positions that do not require Senate approval, and would make the provisions of this Act relating to Senate approval of presidential appointments effective 60 days after enactment and makes the other provisions effective upon enactment.
The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 would seek to reduce the burdens and improve the efficiency of the appointment process for executive branch officials. It would do so by eliminating the requirement for Senate confirmation for over 200 executive branch positions for which the Committee has determined, based on the work of a leadership-commissioned Senate working group, that such confirmation is unnecessary. The bill would also establish an executive branch working group to study and report on the streamlining of paperwork required for executive nominations and the impact of background investigation requirements on the appointments process.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and based on information from federal entities involved in the appointment process, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have no significant impact on the federal budget. Enacting S. 679 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
S. 679 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.
The bill would reduce the number of Presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation from about 1,200 (excluding judges) to around 1,000. The legislation also would eliminate the statutory requirement that the Senate confirm several thousand commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
CBO expects that enacting the bill could reduce the workloads of certain federal employees; however, because those employees would probably be retained and assigned other tasks, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would lead to a negligible reduction in spending subject to appropriation.
The legislation also would establish a working group to examine the process for conducting background investigations of Presidential appointees and study ways to streamline paperwork associated with the appointment process. Because the working group would be staffed by existing government employees and unpaid experts, CBO estimates that implementing this provision would have no significant cost.