Call it the great paradox of presidential power: In the nuclear age, the president can reorganize the planet with the push of a button, but he cannot reorganize his own cabinet. Every new president comes into office promising to streamline government. Most fail, because eliminating or reorganizing government agencies involves turf battles with the congressional members and committees that fund them. It’s much easier to just create new positions and programs, which often leads to overlapping or competing functions.
For instance, we care about improving teacher quality so much that we have 82 programs across 10 agencies focused on the issue. Three separate federal departments and agencies have jurisdiction over the eggs you eat for breakfast.
The last major executive reorganization merged nearly two dozen agencies to create the Department of Homeland Security—but the department still reports to over 100 congressional committees and subcommittees.
No wonder a review by the Government Accountability Office found 32 cases where different departments were essentially performing the same task, costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
Granting presidents the authority to reorganize their branch of government is straightforward— we just have to revive the authority given to every president from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan.
In the 1930s, Congress passed reforms allowing presidents to consolidate departments while maintaining a measure of congressional oversight. Over the next 50 years, presidents submitted more than 100 reorganization plans to help the federal government adapt to changing times. But the Reorganization Act lapsed in 1984, and hasn’t been renewed since.
There is a bill in Congress that would essentially revive the Reorganization Act by empowering presidents to reorganize— or even eliminate—redundant parts of the federal government, provided the president’s proposal improves efficiency and reduces costs. No Labels believes this bill, or something like it, should be passed immediately.