When our Founders gave the Senate "Advise and Consent" power over presidential appointments, they hoped it would encourage the president to appoint qualified people and avoid conflicts of interest.
Today, it's the senators themselves who seem to have conflicts of interest, with key presidential appointments routinely held up for trivial reasons or to serve the narrow interests of a single senator. In one notorious case from 2010, a senator held up over 70 presidential nominees at once to secure more federal spending for his state.
As of late 2011, more than 200 presidentially-appointed positions remained unfilled. In the last few years the directorship of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, key positions at the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve and numerous federal judgeships have been left unfilled for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the quality of the nominees.
The Senate's "Advise and Consent" role on presidential appointments is critically important, but the process no longer resembles anything close to what the Founders intended.
That's why all presidential nominations should be confirmed or rejected within 90 days of the nomination being received by the Senate. This time frame includes both committee and floor action. If a nominee's name is not confirmed or rejected within 90 days, the nominee would be confirmed by default.
This proposal require a change of House and Senate rules, which can be made effective when the new Congress is seated in 2013.