Nominations to Cabinet Positions During Inter-Term Transitions Since 1984 [February 20, 2013] [open pdf - 323KB]
"Under the Constitution, the top leadership positions of the executive branch are filled through appointment by the President 'by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.' These posts include most of the approximately two dozen that form the President's Cabinet. Because of the importance of these offices to the implementation of the President's policies and the leadership of federal departments and agencies, they are usually among the first to be filled at the outset of a new Administration. The President may nominate individuals to fill these posts at any point during his time in office, however. From time-to-time, Presidents have made new Cabinet appointments in the midst of a term in response to unexpected resignations or deaths. In recent decades, it also has become customary for each two-term President to reshuffle his Cabinet during the inter-term transition--the transition that takes place at the end of a President's first term in office and beginning of his second term. This process of filling Cabinet vacancies at the beginning of a second term has not been as extensive as the staffing at the beginning of the first term; typically about half the Cabinet members change. Nonetheless, the pace at which these nominations and confirmations are carried out could affect the implementation of the President's policies during his second term, as well as the leadership of the departments and agencies affected. This report discusses nominations to Cabinet positions during inter-term presidential transitions. It begins with a discussion of the positions that make up the Cabinet and the process by which nominations to such positions are considered in the Senate. Following this discussion, the report provides data on, and analysis of, the pace of Senate consideration of inter-term transition nominations to Cabinet positions since 1984."
CRS Report for Congress, R42963