Bush's Appointments Process Bogs Down

By John S. McClenahen Washington-bashers and foes of big government may be delighted. But 100 days into George W. Bush's presidency, the traditional time for a chief executive's first performance review, only 29 of 488 senior-level executive-branch appointments have been confirmed by the Senate, a new survey shows. Indeed, according to the Presidential Appointee Initiative at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, the top executive -- the secretary -- is the only senior policy-maker confirmed in nine of the 14 cabinet departments. Bush has nominated a total of 60 people. However, in seven departments no official other than the secretary has been officially nominated. At this point in his presidency, Bill Clinton, who was chided at the time for the glacial speed of his appointments, had 92 top officials nominated and 42 confirmed. And at the end of his first term's first 100 days, President Ronald Reagan had nominated 112 senior executives and had 72 confirmed. Blame for Bush's slow start belongs to an "irrevocably broken" presidential appointments process that includes questionnaires, financial-disclosure forms, investigations, and Congressional delay, believes Paul C. Light, vice president and director of governmental studies at Brookings.

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