The Presidential Appointment Process at the Beginning of the 21st Century

May 1, 2003

Alec D. Rogers

The quality of appointments to the executive branch has long been identified as a vital aspect of an administration’s success. Of the many things about which he could worry at the beginning of his Presidency, for instance, the one that most worried Thomas Jefferson was who would serve in the executive branch of government: “There is nothing I am so anxious about as good nominations,” he wrote as he was preparing to assume office. Yet, over the past several years, there has been growing consensus that the process by which the President appoints and the Senate confirms high level executive branch appointees has become so long
and arduous that many potential appointees may decide that it is better to stay at one’s law firm or investment bank than to uproot the family, sell the house, divest the portfolio and move to Washington, only to have to wait for months on end to be confirmed to a position that pays one-half of their private sector salaries.

The Presidential Appointment Process at the Beginning of the 21st Century