With the departure of Bob Groves from the Census Bureau [See here for his exit interviews], it is important to reflect on the Census Bureau director appointment.
The Census Bureau director is a political appointment. But, Congress did accomplish something before their August recess. They passed the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act. This act eliminates confirmation requirements for about 200 offices.
More important is that this legislation specifically addresses the Census Bureau director position. It still requires Senate confirmation, but it will now be a fixed 5-year term; one term spans the the census (2017-2022 while the other spans the planning stages (2012-2017, etc.). In addition, it has a Qualifications provision that states that “such appoinment shalll be made from individuals who have a demonstrated ability in managing large organizatons, and experience in the collection, analysis, and use of statistical data.”
Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act
See page 9 for the discussion of the Census Bureau director
As an aside, various friends of the Census Bureau have tried to have the Census Bureau director appointment be a non-political appointment – running for a 5-year fixed term. The last attempt was by Carolyn Maloney in the 111th Session of Congress. Her bill was just focused on the Census Bureau. Here’s some background materials.
In the end, this failed in the House, while the companion bill passed in the Senate.