As we at Bureauphile were shocked to learn earlier in the week, S. 679 successfully passed a House vote on July 31, 2012. We have done some very preliminary analysis of the impact of S. 679, which we presented at the “Appointee Politics and the Implications for Government Effectiveness” Workshop in Alexandria, VA on May 4th to some of the Senate committee staff responsible for writing the bill.
Using validated measures of appointee vacancies from data collected by Matthew Dull, Patrick Roberts, myself, and several able graduate students, we compared the relative vacancy rate of positions identified in the bill to the vacancy rate of positions not identified in the bill. We commended the staffers for their efforts because the positions identified in the bill remained vacant for longer periods of time (on average) than other Senate-confirmed appointee positions. In the graph below, the Y-axis represents days a position remained vacant, the X-axis represents the Congresses across which data were collected.
As you see, in both the Clinton and GWB presidencies, S679 positions (in the executive branch) averaged as much as 50 days greater vacancy time in a given Congress than other appointee positions in the executive branch. As Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) points out, maybe (just maybe) this will allow for less obstructionism and more attention to pressing needs of the country. One can only hope, but to repeat… Holy Cow!