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Oct 26, 2009

When Liberal Senators Become Concerned About Tzars

Perhaps the two most moderate Senators in office at this time are Senator Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me.

According to the American Conservative Union ratings, Senator Lieberman is moderate to "left" among Democrats and Senator Collins is to the "left" of most Republicans.

On October 22nd, 2009, they held a hearing on their concerns about the Czars appointed by President Obama.

At the beginning of the meeting, Senator Collins said,“This is not an academic exercise.Czars – not Cabinet secretaries – are negotiating with members of Congress on key policy issues."

She asked, Where is the Cabinet official in these talks? As I have stated before, this is not a partisan issue; this is not a political issue. It is an issue of institutional imperative and Constitutional prerogative.”


The use of "Czars" can trace its history back at least to President Andrew Jackson's "Kitchen Cabinet." Nor can it be claimed that the Bush Administration did not have Czars. President Roosevelt had 12 Czar type jobs and 19 appointees reviewed by the Senate.

President G.W. Bush had 31 Czars and 46 appointees in eight years. Some of those positions were due, in part, to the 9/11 terrorist attack. So far, President B.H. Obama has created 31 Czars and 35 appointees in eight months.

Thomas J. Ridge, the original Home Security Czar and the first Secretary of Home Security gave testimony. He said his interest was in the issues of effective management, good governance, transparency and lines of authority:

1. Who’s reporting to whom?
2. How specific is the job description?
3. Does the individual initiate, coordinate or execute policy?
4. To whom does the individual report?
5. Is it the same person to whom the individual is accountable?

President Obama's Czars have were appointed with minimal public clarification of duty and have a Department of subject authority, that is supposed to be led by a Senate-approved Secretary. What is the line of authority? Are they directly accountable to the President or to the Secretary? Or both? Do they just make policy or do they direct it as well?

If an organization such as a company or non-profit organization needs to remain in compliance with policy, whom do they consult with? It contributes to conflict and reduces the effectiveness of both the Secretary and the Czar.

Former Attorney-Advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, Lee Casey, gave testimony that divided the Czars into three types. The first are those who are in offices appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate such as the "Drug Czar" and the "Intellegence Czar." The second are those who do not necessarily develop policy or coordinate function, such as Ambassadore Holbrooke who has been appointed to the Department of State acting as the "Afghanistan Czar" to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The third type is the one causing the most concern, the White House policy Czar. They are presidential assistants employed as part of the White House staff, or otherwise in the Executive Office of the President (“EOP”).

They are appointed by the President, and, ultimately, responsible only to him. They are exempt from recordkeeping and public disclosure requirements generally applicable to Executive Branch agencies. That was established by Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President under the Clinton Administration in 1996.

Examples of these are the Energy and Environment Czar, the Domestic Violence Czar, the Faith-Based Czar and the Green Jobs Czar. The last, Green Jobs Czar, is the most notorious, as it was held by Mr. Van Jones whose sudden resignation has caused a great deal of controversy and brought this issue into public scrutiny.

Expect these Czars to be more widely discussed, but Senator Collins restricted herself to naming only 18 Czars that may or may not fit this category:


Positions in the Executive Office of the President (10)

Central Region Czar: Dennis Ross
Official Title: Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region
Reports to: National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones

Cybersecurity Czar: Phil Reitinger

Reported Duties: Will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation's government-run and private computer networks.
Reports to: National Security Advisor Gen. James L. Jones and Larry Summers, the President’s top economic advisor

Domestic Violence Czar: Lynn Rosenthal
Official Title: White House Advisor on Violence Against Women
Reported Duties: Will advise the President and Vice President on domestic violence and sexual assault issues.
Reports to: President Obama and Vice President Biden

Economic Czar: Paul Volcker
Official Title: Chairman of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Reported Duties: Charged with offering independent, nonpartisan information, analysis and advice to the President as he formulates and implements his plans for economic recovery.
Reports to: President Obama

Energy and Environment Czar: Carol Browner
Official Title: Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Reported Duties: Coordinate energy and climate policy, emphasizing regulation and conservation.
Reports to: President Obama

Health Czar: Nancy-Ann DeParle
Official Title: Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform
Reported Duties: Coordinates the development of the Administration’s healthcare policy agenda.
Reports to: President Obama

Senior Director for Information Sharing Policy: Mike Resnick
Reported Duties: Lead a comprehensive review of information sharing and lead an interagency policy process to identify information sharing and access priorities going forward. (Perhaps performing functions statutorily assigned to the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment).
Reports to: Unknown

Urban Affairs Czar: Adolfo Carrion Jr.
Official Title: White House Director of Urban Affairs
Reported Duties: Coordinating transportation and housing initiatives, as well as serving as a conduit for federal aid to economically hard-hit cities.
Reports to: President Obama

WMD Policy Czar: Gary Samore
Official Title: White House Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Security and Arms Control
Reported Duties: Will coordinate issues related to weapons of mass destruction across the government, including: proliferation, nuclear and conventional arms control, threat reduction, and terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.
Reports to: National Security Advisor Gen. James L. Jones

Green Jobs Czar: TBD (Van Jones – Resigned)
Official Title: Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Reported Duties: Will focus on environmentally-friendly employment within the administration and boost support for the idea nationwide.
Reports to: Head of Council on Environmental Quality

Positions in a Department or Agency (8)

Afghanistan Czar: Richard Holbrooke
Official Title: Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Reported Duties: Will work with CENTCOM head to integrate U.S. civilian and military efforts in the region.
Reports to: Secretary of State (position is within the Department of State)

Auto Recovery Czar: Ed Montgomery
Official Title: Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers
Reported Duties: Will work to leverage government resources to support the workers, communities, and regions that rely on the American auto industry.
Reports to: Labor Secretary and Larry Summers, the President’s top economic advisor (position is within the Department of Labor)

Car Czar (Manufacturing Policy): Ron Bloom
Official Title: Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury
Reported Duties: Leader of the White House task force overseeing auto company bailouts; worked on the restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler LLC.
Reports to: Treasury Secretary and Larry Summers, the President’s top economic advisor (position is within the Department of Treasury)

Great Lakes Czar: Cameron Davis
Official Title: Special advisor to the U.S. EPA overseeing its Great Lakes restoration plan
Reported Duties: Oversees the Administration’s initiative to restore the Great Lakes’ environment.
Reports to: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (position is within the Environmental Protection Agency)

Pay Czar: Kenneth Feinberg
Official Title: Special Master on executive pay
Reported Duties: Examines compensation practices at companies that have been bailed out more than once by the federal government.
Reports to: Treasury Secretary (position is within the Department of the Treasury)

Guantanamo Closure Czar: Daniel Fried
Official Title: Special Envoy to oversee the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay
Reported Duties: Works to get help of foreign governments in moving toward closure of Guantanamo Bay.
Reports to: Secretary of State (position is within the Department of State)

International Climate Czar: Todd Stern
Official Title: Special Envoy for Climate Change
Reported Duties: Responsible for developing international approaches to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
Reports to: Secretary of State (position is within the Department of State)

Special Representative for Border Affairs and Assistant Secretary for International Affairs (dubbed “Border Czar”): Alan Bersin
Official Title: Assistant Secretary for International Affairs
Reported Duties: Will coordinate all of the Department’s border security and law-enforcement efforts.
Reports to: Homeland Security Secretary (position is within the Department of Homeland Security

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