Congressional Nominations to U.S. Service Academies: An Overview and Resources for Outreach and Management [September 14, 2011] [open pdf - 298KB]
"Members of Congress are authorized by law to nominate candidates for appointment to four U.S. service academies. These schools are the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The fifth service academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, does not require a congressional nomination for appointment. These institutions prepare college-age Americans to be officers of the United States uniformed services. Upon graduation, service academy graduates are commissioned as officers in the active or reserve components of the military or merchant marine for a minimum of five years. The nomination of constituents to one of the service academies can provide Members of Congress with the opportunity to perform community outreach and other representational duties. In some states and congressional districts, nominations are highly competitive. Others are less competitive, and some offices do not receive expressions of interest from enough applicants to fill the number of nominations allocated. Consequently, some congressional offices might need to dedicate considerable staff resources to the selection process to identify qualified candidates, while others can incorporate service academy nominations alongside other constituent service work such as casework. […] This report, which will be updated as warranted, describes statutory requirements for allocating congressional nominations to service academies. It also identifies the qualifications that must be met by potential nominees, as established by statute and each academy. Finally, sample documents that could be used by congressional offices at various stages of the nomination selection process are included. These documents provide basic information and can be customized to fit the specific needs of individual office policies."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33213