WASHINGTON – Legislation to streamline the nominations process is on its way to the Senate floor after the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee reported it out Wednesday on a voice vote. The Committee also approved the nomination of Rafael Borras as Under Secretary for Management at the Department of Homeland Security and five other bills.
     The bipartisan Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, S. 679 – sponsored by Rules Committee Chairman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and co-sponsored by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me. – would eliminate Senate confirmation for about 200 presidential nominees and set in motion a process to streamline and consolidate the many forms nominees are required to fill out. The Rules Committee is working on a companion resolution to exclude a number of board and commission appointments from the Senate nomination process
     “This is legislation that will improve government efficiency,” Lieberman said.  “Eighteen months into the Obama Administration, 25 percent of his nominees were still unconfirmed. This is not an aberration. The timetables for putting in place the president’s leadership team across the government has been pretty much the same for each of the last three times a new president entered office.
     “We need to simplify and speed-up the process to fill important positions and to encourage more of our nation’s most talented individuals to accept nominations. And we need to reduce the number of confirmed positions so that the Senate can focus and act more quickly on the most critical positions.”
     Collins said: When President Kennedy came to office, he had 286 positions to fill requiring Senate confirmation.  By the end of the Clinton Administration, there were 914 such positions.  Today, the Rules Committee puts that number at 1,409 positions appointed by the President and requiring the advice and consent of the Senate.  The nominations reform bill we considered today would eliminate 205 positions from Senate confirmation requirement — most of which are part-time advisory board jobs.  Should the Senate really be confirming 10 part-time members of the National Institute for Literacy Advisory Board?
     “By reducing the number of positions requiring Senate confirmation, I am hopeful the Senate could instead focus more on the critical work of creating jobs, reducing the debt, strengthening our homeland security, and conducting meaningful oversight of the Executive Branch.”
     The Committee also reported out the nomination of Rafael Borras, who has 27 years of management experience in the public and private sector and has served as Under Secretary for Management at DHS for a year, under a recess appointment.
     In that time, Mr. Borras has helped to strengthen the Department’s acquisition processes and has reviewed the Department’s workforce needs and use of contractors. He has helped identify $800 million in potential savings within DHS’ various components and has been addressing problems that put the Department on the Government Accountability Office’s list of programs as at risk of failure due to mismanagement.
     “He has proven himself to be a dedicated and highly capable leader in an incredibly challenging position,” Lieberman said.
     Also reported out of the Committee were:
• S. 300, The Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act
• S. 498,  The Independent Task and Delivery Order Review Extension Act
•  S. 762, The Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act
• S.191, The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act
• S. Res 128, expressing a sense of the Senate that public servants should be commended for their dedication during Public Service Recognition Week May 1-7.