On March 13th, 2017 President Trump signed Executive Order (EO) #13781 that aims to make the Federal government more efficient, effective, and accountable to the American people. The EO directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to propose a plan to “reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs.”
Shortly after the Executive Order was signed, OMB asked federal agencies to submit their plans for reorganization, and also asked the American public to submit their suggestions. Pursuit compiled its own document of suggestions with the help of our readers and submitted them to OMB last year. Many recommendations were to eliminate or reform duplicative, wasteful, or inefficient uses of taxpayer dollars.
One year later the White House’s plan has been released. The 132-page OMB document includes topics ranging from environmental cleanup to housing finance reform. Among the suggestions Pursuit submitted to OMB, are reforms to Foreign Aid, Federal Property, and Domestic Assistance.
Margaret Weichert, Deputy Director for Management at OMB, summarized the plan at a recent hearing, as creating a “customer centric approach” for federal programs – eliminating overhead so more can be spent on individuals who need help. The plan is light on data backing up its proposals, and neither Congress nor taxpayers have been able to see the submitted reports from federal agencies. But Mrs. Weichert assured Senators 40% of the proposals are identical or fairly close to what’s been recommended by GAO, and 10 to 12 recommendations are from previous administrations.
While most of the plan would require Congressional approval, there are some proposals the administration can start implementing at the end of the summer, such as cyber workforce and customer experience initiatives.
It is great to see the administration acknowledging the disarray that is the federal bureaucracy. If Congress and the administration acted today, reorganization could be achieved in three to five years, says Mrs. Weichert.
From The Classroom To The Workforce
The plan would merge the $80 billion Department of Education (ED) with the $40 billion Department of Labor (DOL) to meet “the needs of American students and workers, from education and skill development to workplace protection to retirement security.” The administration hopes this restructuring will lead to a smoother transition from the classroom to the workforce.
“Merging ED and DOL would allow the federal government to address the educational and skill needs of American students and workers in a coordinated way, eliminating duplication of effort between the two agencies and maximizing the effectiveness of skill-building efforts.”
Food Stamps Move To HHS
The administration’s desire to move the $70 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, food stamps) from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is bound to be one of the more controversial changes. Since HHS currently oversees many domestic assistance programs already, the administration hopes to house a good portion of them under one roof, changing the name of HHS to the Department of Health and Public Welfare.
“This proposal will better align the administration of these public assistance programs at the Federal level with how they are often administered at the State and local levels. This will reduce administrative burdens and duplications…It will also ensure that policies are applied consistently across all programs, potentially reducing confusing, complex, and sometimes contradictory requirements across programs…”
You’ve Got Mail
Citing its $100 billion in unfunded liabilities, the administration hones in on addressing our nation’s unprofitable postal service. Essentially, the proposal would prepare the United States Postal Service (USPS) for privatization. This is another one that is met with wide skepticism from rural state Congressmen.
“This proposal would restructure USPS by aligning revenues and expenses to restore a sustainable business model and possibly prepare it for future conversion from a Government agency into a privately-held corporation. Like many European nations, the United States could privatize its postal operator while maintaining strong regulatory oversight to ensure fair competition and reasonable prices for customers. A private Postal Service with independence from congressional mandates could more flexibly manage the decline of First-Class mail while continuing to provide needed services to American communities.”
The Federal Government, An Angel Investor
It looks like President Trump’s Administration will try to use the President’s business background to help other American businesses – that’s the plan anyway. The newly created Bureau of Economic Development would consolidate federal economic assistance programs under one roof within the Department of Commerce.
“By coordinating and consolidating Federal economic assistance resources at the Department of Commerce (DOC), taxpayer dollars will receive a higher return on investment on projects that are transparent and accountable.”