Subcommittee Examines Federal Agency Reorganization and Duplication

WASHINGTON, DC The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, under the chairmanship of Senator James Lankford (R-OK), today held a hearing to examine how to ensure the federal government reorganizes effectively to reduce wasteful spending and better serve the American people. 

Following the President’s March 13, 2017, Presidential Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mulvaney issued a memorandum on April 12, 2017, for agencies titled “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce.” The memorandum directed agencies to submit plans to “maximize employee performance,” “high-level drafts” of Agency Reform Plans to reorganize programs and organizational charts to eliminate duplication and inefficiencies, and progress reports on “near-term workforce reduction actions” to OMB by June 30, 2017.

Today’s hearing was a follow-up to a similar hearing on June 15, entitled, “Agency Approaches to Reorganization: Examining OMB’s Memorandum on the Federal Workforce.” In this second hearing, the Subcommittee heard from expert think tank and former executive branch official witnesses regarding the successes and failures of past reorganization efforts.

“The elimination of duplication and reorganization of federal bureaucracy is not a partisan issue. It is something Presidents from both parties have tried to do for more than 20 years,” said Lankford. “Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all sought to reform the federal government to make it leaner and more efficient for the American people. We have a duty to put partisanship aside so that we can accomplish the reform that has been so necessary and yet so elusive for more than 20 years. I have the privilege of serving tens of thousands of federal civil servants from Oklahoma and seek to ensure the OMB’s reorganization improves their effectiveness as they serve the American people. Today’s hearing was beneficial to hear from outside policy experts about how this can be done.” 

Notable Comments from Witnesses:

Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union said, “NTEU is in favor of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of federal agencies to ensure that they are providing the services that Americans rely upon and that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.” 

Christopher Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at the CATO Institute said, “Policymakers should require agencies to evaluate more of their programs with full cost-benefit analyses and to release the results. There can be substantial disagreement about the results of such studies, but the process is useful because it requires the government to at least try to quantify the merits of its policy actions.”

Robert Shea, former U.S. Office of Management and Budget official and Principle at Grant Thornton, LLP, specializing in performance management within the public sector said, “Eliminating units or creating new organizations to improve performance are part of the DNA of business operations. The federal government lacks such agility, so policymakers are constantly trying to find ways to overcome such bureaucratic barriers to change. Because they haven’t succeeded, overlap and duplication among government programs continues to grow….   In particular, if Members of Congress are not at the table as current reorganization proposals are being developed, prospects for their success are dim.”

Rachel Greszler, Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation specializing in economics said, “There are some changes that the President can make on his own without any approval from Congress or the public, but more substantial government reform—that which the President’s executive order calls for—will require support from Congress, which could be buoyed by public support.”

CLICK HERE to view the full hearing video and opening statements. CLICK HERE to view the video of Lankford’s opening statement.