Executive Order Aims to Eliminate Unnecessary Federal Agencies

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By on March 13, 2017 in Agency News with 0 Comments

Donald Trump signing an executive order at his desk in the oval office

President Trump signed an executive order this afternoon that is part of his administration’s effort to scale back the size of the federal government and pave the way for the release of his administration’s budget blueprint later this week.

The new order, called Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch, instructs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to propose a plan to “reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs.”

Reorganization Plan

Agency heads will be required by the executive order to submit a plan to the OMB director within 180 days from today to reorganize the agency as appropriate in order to improve its efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

Those individual proposals will then go to the OMB Director to formulate into a comprehensive plan.

Criteria to be used by the Director in determining areas to cut include the possibility that the functions of the agency would be best left to state and local government, that functions inside of an agency are redundant, and whether the costs to maintain a program are justifiable in terms of providing a public benefit.

The executive order also offers a unique approach in that it allows the public to weigh in on the plans. It contains a clause which instructs the OMB Director to post a notice in the Federal Register that will allow the public to offer comments on the cuts and consolidations that arise from the plans submitted by individual agencies. “All Americans will be able to submit suggestions and ideas on how to make government work better for them,” said a White House official.

Eliminating Agencies

Proposals have already been put forth by Congress for eliminating entire agencies.

Legislation has been introduced since the start of the year to eliminate these agencies:

These bills obviously would have to pass through both the House and the Senate and then be signed into law, and even if they were to do so they would likely face amendments as they worked through the process.

Also, as FedSmith.com author Ralph Smith recently wrote in his article about eliminating the Department of Education, eliminating an entire agency is neither easy nor politically popular:

It will not be easy for Congress to eliminate the agency [Education Department]. While eliminating the agency would help in resolving the budget deficit, winning the votes necessary for Congress to pass this bill will not be easy.

White House Budget Proposal

The executive order is a precursor to the Trump administration’s budget blueprint which is set to be released on March 16. It is expected to contain substantial cuts to federal agencies and the overall size of the federal workforce.

The Washington Post reported that the suggested cuts to discretionary spending are on a magnitude not seen since the drawdown after World War II. However, spending on programs such as Medicare and Social Security would not be touched, and these account for the majority of the federal government’s budget.

Defense spending is also expected to be increased in the budget. As teasers of the impending budget proposal have been released, various federal agencies have been targeted for budget cuts as part of the Trump administration’s effort to shrink government while simultaneously redirecting money towards defense operations.

The Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, may see proposed budget cuts of 25% while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reportedly may see a suggested cut of 17%.

Cuts have also been proposed to the Coast Guard and TSA in order to pave the way for increased spending to secure the border, most notably the border wall and budget boosts at Customs and Border Protection.

Until the budget blueprint is released, however, it is unknown what the actual proposals will be for each agency and the federal workers employed there.

Also, the impending budget proposal is just that; a proposal. Discussions between agencies and budget officials remain ongoing, and Congress must authorize any actual agency budget reductions.

We will keep our readers apprised of more news as it becomes available.

A copy of the new executive order is included below.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

March 13, 2017

Presidential Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR REORGANIZING THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Purpose.  This order is intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch by directing the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director) to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies (as defined in section 551(1) of title 5, United States Code), components of agencies, and agency programs.

Sec. 2.  Proposed Plan to Improve the Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability of Federal Agencies, Including, as Appropriate, to Eliminate or Reorganize Unnecessary or Redundant Federal Agencies.  (a)  Within 180 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall submit to the Director a proposed plan to reorganize the agency, if appropriate, in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of that agency.

(b)  The Director shall publish a notice in the Federal Register inviting the public to suggest improvements in the organization and functioning of the executive branch and shall consider the suggestions when formulating the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section.

(c)  Within 180 days after the closing date for the submission of suggestions pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the Director shall submit to the President a proposed plan to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies.  The proposed plan shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions.  The proposed plan shall include recommendations for any legislation or administrative measures necessary to achieve the proposed reorganization.

(d)  In developing the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section, the Director shall consider, in addition to any other relevant factors:

(i)    whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are appropriate for the Federal Government or would be better left to State or local governments or to the private sector through free enterprise;

(ii)   whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are redundant, including with those of another agency, component, or program;

(iii)  whether certain administrative capabilities necessary for operating an agency, a component, or a program are redundant with those of another agency, component, or program;

(iv)   whether the costs of continuing to operate an agency, a component, or a program are justified by the public benefits it provides; and

(v)    the costs of shutting down or merging agencies, components, or programs, including the costs of addressing the equities of affected agency staff.

(e) In developing the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section, the Director shall consult with the head of each agency and, consistent with applicable law, with persons or entities outside the Federal Government with relevant expertise in organizational structure and management.

Sec. 3.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
March 13, 2017.

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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