How the Comptroller General Is Selected

The Congress established the current procedure for nominating a Comptroller General when it passed the GAO Act of 1980. Under the act, the Comptroller General is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. When a vacancy occurs in the office of the Comptroller General, the Congress establishes a commission to recommend individuals to the President. The commission consists of the following:

    • The Speaker of the House of Representatives

    • The President Pro Tempore of the Senate

    • The majority and minority leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate

    • The Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

    • The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The commission must recommend at least three individuals to the President, and the President may request that the commission recommend additional individuals. The President then selects an individual from those recommended to nominate as the new Comptroller General. The President's nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. Comptrollers general are appointed for one nonrenewable 15-year term.

The commission process was first used after Elmer B. Staats finished his term as the fifth Comptroller General in March 1981. The commission process has thus been followed twice, leading to the President's nomination, and the Senate's confirmation, of the sixth Comptroller General, Charles A. Bowsher, in 1981 and the seventh Comptroller General, David M. Walker, in 1998. The commission process will be used to name the next Comptroller General. In the interim, Mr. Walker, upon his resignation on March 12, 2008, appointed Gene L. Dodaro to serve as Acting Comptroller General.