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March 14 2017

President Trump: May Be Time to Say "You're Fired!" to Duplicative Agency Employees

by Patrice L. Onwuka

President Donald Trump has followed his executive order cutting two regulations for every new one with a new order to eliminate waste and duplication in federal agencies.

Yesterday, flanked by cabinet members, President Trump signed the “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch.” The directive gives Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney the task of a government-wide review based on recommendations from agency heads and the public.

Trump noted to reporters:

… it requires a “thorough examination of every executive department and agency” to find out “where money is being wasted [and] how services can be improved.”

Elsewhere he added:

“We have assembled one of the greatest cabinets in history," Trump said in signing the executive order following his first Cabinet meeting. "And we want to empower them to make their agencies as lean and effective as possible and they know how to do it. Today there is duplication and redundancy everywhere. Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted."

Departments and agencies will be required to identify wasteful spending, duplicative programs, and potential improvements. Federalism is a factor that will be considered as well with programs (I.e. whether a program is better left to the state or local government or the private sector entirely). There will also be a cost-benefit analysis of the agencies themselves. There are no set amounts of cuts to make, but the outcomes of this effort run the gamut from dramatic reductions in the federal workforce to the elimination of entire agencies.

According to the order, every agency head must provide recommendations within six months to Mulvaney. He will then bundle them up and submit them to Congress before submitting the final recommendations to President Trump one year from now.

This effort to eliminate wasteful spending is not the first such effort from a president. The Government Executive finds:

In 2012, President Obama sent legislative language to Congress requesting a restoration of authority to consolidate agencies enjoyed by presidents from the 1930s to the 1980s…

In 2011, Obama signed an executive order titled Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government as part of his “campaign to cut waste…”

In 2005, the George W. Bush administration proposed the Government Reorganization and Program Performance Improvement Act, which would have created commissions to identify areas of overlap and programs to be restructured or terminated. President Clinton’s famed “reinventing government” campaign promised a “national performance review” to eliminate waste through reorganization and other cost-saving efforts. President Reagan’s Grace Commission proposed $424 billion in cuts to what it identified as inefficiencies in government.

What excites government watchdog groups this time is that this isn’t necessarily a top-down approach but seeks input from the agencies and the public outside of Washington.

The prospect for change is big if we consider that many of President Trump’s cabinet secretaries didn’t come from government but from the private sector where they managed large, complex organizations. It’s a chance to apply private sector discipline and innovation to disrupt how Washington agencies work.

We’ll track these efforts to see what Mulvaney and the other agency heads come up with. We hope that this directive isn’t just a promise but a real effort to get Washington to work better or get out of the way.

 

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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