Appointments Watch: See you in September

Summer vacation is coming to an end, and many federal employees still don't know who their new bosses will be. Although President Bush got more nominees to the Senate before the August recess than President Clinton did at the start of his first term, more than half of Bush's top appointees still need to be confirmed. According to the Brookings Institution, the Senate had confirmed 227 Bush nominees for top federal posts as of Aug. 10, while 265 additional nominations had been submitted to the Senate and were still awaiting approval. Brookings counts the core 495 political appointments in its analysis, but does not include nominations for ambassadors and certain other officials. Among the appointments awaiting confirmation are California banker James Gilleran as director of the Office of Thrift Supervision. Gilleran will replace the current director, Ellen Seidman, whose term isn't scheduled to expire until October 2002. Bush asked Seidman to resign to make way for his nominee. Other Bush nominees waiting in the wings include microbiologist Elsa Murano as undersecretary for food safety at the Agriculture Department; former Rep. Mike Parker, R-Miss., as head of the Army Corps of Engineers; John Walters as chief of the National Drug Control Policy office; and Patrick Henry Wood III as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Lucky Few

The Senate didn't completely slack off in the weeks leading up to its recess. In July and early August, the Senate confirmed Kay Coles James as director of the Office of Personnel Management, Robert Mueller as FBI director, Los Angeles businessman Hector Barreto Jr. as head of the Small Business Administration, J. Steven Griles as deputy secretary of the Interior Department, John Gauss as chief information officer at the Veterans Affairs Department and Cari Dominguez as chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Dominguez, who replaces Ida L. Castro, headed the Employment Standards Administration at the Labor Department under the first President Bush. James and Mueller are also veterans of the first Bush administration. Before the August recess, the Senate also confirmed securities lawyer Harvey Pitt to replace Laura Unger, as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Hitting the Road

John DiIulio, director of the White House Office on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, plans to quit as soon as a transition team to replace him can be assembled. DiIulio, who is moving back to his native Philadelphia to be closer to his family, helped steer controversial legislation to open government programs to religious groups through the House. DiIulio isn't the only one leaving town. Richard Walker, the SEC's enforcement director, also left his job and Ann Brown is stepping down as head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bush's nominee to chair the CPSC, Mary Sheila Gall, is facing an uphill battle. Earlier this month, the Senate Commerce Committee voted not to send her confirmation to the Senate floor.

James' Top Five

Last month, OPM director Kay Coles James named five people to her senior management team:

  • Paul T. Conway, chief of staff
  • Dawn Hively, deputy chief of staff
  • John C. Gartland, director of congressional relations
  • Scott Hatch, director of communications
  • Mark A. Robbins, general counsel
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