Debate Over Selected Presidential Assistants and Advisors: Appointment, Accountability, and Congressional Oversight [July 19, 2011] [open pdf - 762KB]
"A number of the appointments made by President Barack Obama to his Administration or by Cabinet secretaries to their departments have been referred to, especially by the news media, as 'czars.' For some, the term is being used to quickly convey an appointee's title (e.g., climate 'czar') in shorthand. For others, it is being used to convey a sense that power is being centralized in the White House or certain entities. When used in the political-science literature, the term generally refers to White House policy coordination or an intense focus by the appointee on an issue of great magnitude. Congress has taken note of these appointments; several Members have introduced legislation or sent letters to President Obama to express their concerns. Legislation introduced in the 112th Congress includes H.R. 59, the Sunset All Czars Act, and H.Con.Res. 3, expressing the Sense of Congress on 'czars.' Section 2262 of P.L. 112-10, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, enacted on April 15, 2011, prohibits the use of funds to pay the salaries and expenses for the Director of the White House Office of Health Reform; Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change; Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy; and White House Director of Urban Affairs. […] The Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs conducted hearings on the 'czar' issue in the 111th Congress on October 6, 2009, and October 22, 2009, respectively. A summary of the hearings is included in this report."
CRS Report for Congress, R40856