Reform Agenda Released by Presidential Appointee Initiative – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Reform Agenda Released by Presidential Appointee Initiative

Washington, D.C.-As part of its Presidential Appointee Initiative, The Brookings Institution issued a report to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee today that proposes 11 recommendations for improving the process of nominating and confirming presidential appointees. The measure met with the approval of Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a member of the initiative's advisory board.

Gearan did not attend the hearing but was pleased the initiative has moved along expeditiously.

The recommendations are contained in a report called “To Form a Government: A Bipartisan Plan to Improve the Presidential Appointments Process.” The report outlines a comprehensive approach to improving a system that policy analysts, scholars, administration officials past and present, and nominees themselves almost universally describe as broken.

The 11 recommendations call on the White House and Congress to:

  • create a permanent Office of Presidential Personnel in the Executive Office of the President;
  • simplify and standardize the information-gathering forms used in the presidential appointments process, and develop and maintain online interactive access to all such forms and questionnaires for persons going through the appointments process;
  • reduce the number of positions requiring FBI full-field investigations;
  • undertake a comprehensive review of the ethics requirements imposed on political appointees, with the goal of striking a balance between concerns for the integrity of those who serve and the need to eliminate intrusive or complex disclosure requirements;
  • ensure annual changes in executive-level salaries equal to changes in the Consumer Price Index;
  • reduce the number of positions requiring Senate confirmation;
  • limit the imposition of “holds” by all Senators to a total of no more than 14 days;
  • HWS Presidential Appointment Page 2

  • require Senate confirmation votes within 45 days after receipt of a nomination;
  • allow nominations to be reported out of their respective Senate committee without a hearing upon the concurrence of a majority of committee members of each party;
  • reduce the number and layers of political appointees by one-third; and
  • grant the president renewed executive reorganization authority to de-layer senior management levels of all executive departments and agencies.
  • The Brookings Institution established The Presidential Appointee Initiative in 1999 with a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. The initiative is working to encourage talented citizens to seek and accept presidential appointments, as well as to build support for reforms that will simplify and expedite future appointments. The initiative has published A Survivor's Guide for Presidential Nominees, a step-by-step primer for nominees navigating the murky waters of the appointment process.

    To learn more about The Presidential Appointee Initiative, view its new “Confirmation Countdown,” or order copies of its research studies and publications, visit

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