Appointment of Department of the Interior Associate Deputy Secretary
B-290233: Oct 22, 2002
- Full Report:
This responds to a request from Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, for our opinion on issues relating to the responsibilities, authorities, and manner of appointment of the incumbent Associate Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI). Senator Bingaman expressed concern that the Associate Deputy Secretary might be exercising all of the authorities of the Secretary of the Interior but, unlike the Secretary, he was not nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In particular, Senator Bingaman asked whether the incumbent Associate Deputy Secretary: (1) exercises "significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States," as the Supreme Court has used that term; (2) is a de facto "Officer of the United States" based on the exercise of such authority, potentially requiring nomination by the President and confirmation by the Senate under the Constitution's Appointments Clause; and (3) appears to have been properly appointed to his position.
Based on information and documentation we received from DOI and other agency officials, and for the reasons discussed below, we conclude that the incumbent in this position: (1) does not exercise "significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States;" (2) is therefore not a de facto "officer" subject to Appointments Clause procedures, including but not limited to Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation (a so-called "PAS appointment"); and (3) appears to have been properly appointed to his position as a Non-Career Senior Executive Service federal employee.