Confirmation of Political Appointees:

Eliciting Nominees' Views on Leadership and Management Issues

GGD-00-174: Published: Aug 11, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided guidelines to assist the Senate in its role of confirming political nominees.

GAO noted that: (1) during the 1990s, Congress responded to long-standing shortcomings in the way federal agencies were managed by creating a framework for more results-oriented management; (2) the three major areas addressed by the reforms were results-oriented decisionmaking, financial management, and information technology management; (3) no consensus has yet emerged to address what some see as the major remaining gap in that framework--strategic human capital management; (4) the Senate can facilitate progress in these key management areas by confirming nominees who have the skills and abilities to help make these reforms a reality; (5) realistically, there may be too many questions to expect each nominee to answer them all, and some questions may not be appropriate for all nominees; (6) this does not detract from their usefulness because each Senate committee planning a confirmation hearing can decide which questions to include on the prehearing questionnaire, depending on the position to be confirmed and the amount of other information the committee may require the nominee to provide; (7) GAO believes that asking questions on selected leadership and management issues will send a strong message that the Senate considers such issues to be a priority for all nominees for senior agency positions; (8) the questions can also help ensure that nominees have the requisite skills to deal effectively with the broad array of complex management challenges facing the federal government in the 21st century; and (9) in addition, if the Senate asks these questions as part of the confirmation process, then future Presidents may place added importance on ensuring that nominees have the requisite leadership and management experience for their positions before submitting their names to the Senate for confirmation.

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