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In 1998, the Defense Science Board Task Force on Human Resources Strategy was established for the purpose of evaluating the Department of Defense's (DoD's) capacity to attract and retain both civilian and military personnel. As part of this evaluation, RAND was asked to study the growth of political appointment positions within the DoD as well as to examine the appointment and confirmation process that potential political appointees face. Tasked with reviewing relevant DoD data, the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), acting in support of the Defense Science Board Task Force, found that the number of DoD positions requiring Senate confirmation has grown significantly over the past two decades. The study also revealed that the functional responsibilities of such positions have narrowed while their vacancy rates have increased. In assessing the literature, the NDRI found that disincentives exist in the political appointment and confirmation process — namely, requirements that candidates disclose a range of personal and financial information; requirements to comply with conflict-of-interest regulations that may require divestiture of stock holdings; and requirements to comply with extensive post employment restrictions. Additionally, the length of the appointment and confirmation process itself may serve as a disincentive to potential appointees.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1


  • Chapter 2

    Trends in DoD Political Appointees

  • Chapter 3

    The Appointment Process and Rules Governing Political Appointees

  • Chapter 4


  • Appendix A

    An Overview of the Federal Workforce System

  • Appendix B

    DoD PAS Position Data Sources

  • Appendix C

    PAS Position Titles in OSD from 1947 to 1999

  • Appendix D

    Chronology of PAS Positions Assigned to OSD Functional Areas

  • Appendix E

    Authorized OSD PAS Positions by Function (May 31, 1999)

The study was conducted within the National Defense Research Institute.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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