President Barack Obama is seeking permission from Congress to do some nipping and tucking to the bureaus and agencies of the executive branch of government. The initial intent is to take six different agencies with similar missions and turn them into one.
Here’s the plan, as stated by the White House: “Currently, there are six major departments and agencies that focus primarily on business and trade in the federal government. The six are: U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.”
Obama said, “We live in a 21st century economy, but we’ve still got a government organized for the 20th century. Our economy has fundamentally changed – as has the world – but the government has not. The needs of our citizens have fundamentally changed but their government has not. Instead, it has often grown more complex. Today, I am calling on Congress to reinstate the authority that past presidents have had to streamline and reform the Executive Branch. This is the same sort of authority that every business owner has to make sure that his or her company keeps pace with the times. And let me be clear: I will only use this authority for reforms that result in more efficiency, better service, and a leaner government.”
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) took a neutral stance. He said, “It is the right time to elevate small business to the top of our national priorities, and we need more ideas for saving taxpayer dollars and making government more efficient. With any significant reorganization, it is also important to put a premium on maintaining proven expertise on matters critical to the economy. We will be taking a hard look at the details of this plan and listening carefully to the concerns of those impacted.”
His opposite number in the House, Fred Upton (R-MI) was much more enthusiastic. “American businesses face challenges enough in a struggling economy,” said Upton. “Unfortunately, many of the commerce and trade programs that were established to promote American enterprise are actually stifling it because of the complexity of multiple government bureaucracies. It’s not often that we see real proposals from this administration to make government smaller. And we know commerce and trade are not the only areas of the federal government in need of serious streamlining. I look forward to reviewing the proposal, and hope that it will be the first of many to unravel the red tape and create a smaller, more efficient federal government.”
RBR-TVBR observation: While we’re on the topic of consolidating government departments, may we suggest rolling the National Telecommunications and Information Administration into the FCC? We’ve stated our belief for years that NTIA, bless its little heart, isn’t much more than FCC-Lite, with little authority over anything.