GAO makes it easier for senators to grill appointees

The General Accounting Office has made it easier for senators to question political appointees about the management challenges facing the agencies they are nominated to lead.

GAO compiled a list of management questions in a report released Wednesday, "Potential Questions to Elicit Nominees' Views on Agencies' Management Challenges" (GAO-01-332R). Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia, requested the report. Voinovich previously asked GAO to prepare a list of general management questions to evaluate the leadership qualities of political appointees.

"We suggest that these questions will be most useful to the Senate and the nominees if they serve as a basis for prompting discussion--both informal and formal," wrote Comptroller General David Walker in a letter accompanying the list.

The questions are based on GAO's biennial "high risk" list, which identifies management challenges at 22 major federal agencies. The questions in GAO's new report ask about specific management issues at nominees' prospective agencies. Appointees for positions at the Department of Interior, for example, would be queried about management of the Indian Trust Funds and how they would recruit specialized workers such as firefighters. A nominee for the Department of Agriculture might be asked: "What is your vision for better delivery of services to farmers in order to meet their needs in the 21st century?"

The questions were not prepared in time to be used at the Senate's confirmation hearings for most Cabinet-level appointees, but they will be available for hearings of appointees at the sub-Cabinet level, according to Voinovich spokeswoman Sara Perking. Voinovich sent the questions to the chairmen and ranking members of 13 Senate Committees last week.

"I believe that these questionnaires can be of significant value to you and your Committee during the confirmation process," Voinovich wrote in a Feb. 1 letter to his colleagues. "Using these tools will send a strong message that your Committee considers extensive knowledge and effective managerial skills a priority for all nominees to senior positions."

GAO's report also includes brief summaries of the management challenges facing agencies drawn from the "high risk" list.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.