Nominations to Cabinet Positions During Inter-Term Transitions Since 1984 [July 30, 2014] [open pdf - 342KB]
"Under the Constitution, high-level leadership positions in 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, which is an institution established by custom, rather than by law. In recent decades, it 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. Typically about half the Cabinet members change during this transition period. The appointments process for Cabinet and other advice and consent positions is generally considered to have three stages. In the first stage, the White House selects and clears a prospective appointee before sending a formal nomination to the Senate. In the second stage, the Senate initially relies on its committees to investigate each nominee and conduct hearings before taking up and deciding whether to approve the nomination. The Senate historically has confirmed most, but not all, Cabinet nominations. In the final stage of the appointments process, the confirmed nominee is given a commission bearing the Great Seal of the United States and signed by the President."
CRS Report for Congress, R42963