WASHINGTON – The White House unveiled a report Thursday recommending ways to streamline an often onerous Senate nominations process for Executive Branch nominees.
The report, submitted to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, proposed reducing duplications in the paperwork nominees must fill out and presented a detailed plan for the creation and implementation of an electronic smart form. The recommendations were adopted unanimously by the members of a bipartisan working group called for in a nominations reform bill enacted three months ago.
“As President Obama begins planning for his second term in office, the timing of this report could not be more auspicious,” said Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. “If the bipartisan working-group recommendations are adopted, the President’s new nominees will proceed through their Senate confirmations more efficiently than others have in the past because of reduced paperwork.
“The nominations streamlining bill signed into law three months ago, which called for the working group study, will free up the Senate to concentrate on nominees for the most important offices, while the working group recommendations will free up nominees to concentrate on the issues rather than filling out paperwork.”
The Senate-passed bill, signed into law in August, sought to reduce a backlog of nominees that traditionally piles up at the beginning of a new Administration. The bill significantly reduced the number of appointments requiring Senate confirmation to focus Senate resources on higher profile nominees and expedite the vetting process. The bill also created the working group charged with submitting recommendations to streamline paperwork and digitize aspects of the nominations process.
The report recommends that Senate committees should:
• Adopt a core questionnaire that nominees can fill out and return to the committee soon after their nomination. Committees may add supplemental questions that are unique to their committees’ jurisdiction, but a core questionnaire will allow Committees to start vetting nominees sooner. The report will include a proposed set of core questions that have been developed after consulting with Senate committees.
• Ask that questions on WH questionnaires or Senate questionnaires not duplicate questions on the public financial disclosure form.
•Eliminate questions that are duplicative of the financial disclosure report each committee receives for nominees in its jurisdiction.
• Eliminate irrelevant questions such as net worth and investment income.
• Vary paperwork for certain part-time positions on boards and commissions that may not require heavy scrutiny.
• Implement recommendations before the new Congress starts in January.
The report also recommended that an electronic smart form be developed within the next year.