Trump order aims to reduce waste in government

Date posted: March 14, 2017

Budget director has a year to set proposals


President Trump wants a more productive government.

WASHINGTON President Trump launched an ambitious effort to reorganize the federal government. Monday, signing an executive order that he said would “make it less wasteful and more productive.”

Like many of Trump’s executive orders, the order sets a high-level policy but leaves the details to be determined. Titled “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch,” the directive gives Trump’s budget director one year to come up with proposals for the president and Congress to “eliminate unnecessary agencies.”

“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.”

Trump’s executive order will require departments and agencies to identify wasteful spending, duplicative programs and potential improvements to government services. “This is the beginning of a long overdue reorganization of the federal government,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer. “Sometimes you just walk into an agency and you realize that agency’s mission is no longer relevant or that it’s duplicative in three other agencies. Or that there are too many people performing a function that no longer exists for a variety of reasons.”

The order directs Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to seek public input from federal agencies and the public. One factor: whether a government program is better left to state and local governments or the private sector.

The initiative complements a law passed in 2010 to require an annual accounting of wasteful and duplicative government spending. That law, passed by Congress as a condition of raising the debt limit, has saved taxpayers $56 billion in the first five years, according to the Government Accountability Office.

But the president has little power to reorganize, so Trump’s reorganization plan will need support from Congress to be implemented.

“Every president since Roosevelt has done a study of how to fix government,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor and author of A Government Ill Executed. “President Trump won’t be the first to have one, and he wouldn’t be the first to be disappointed in it.”

But some government waste watchdogs are more optimistic.

“I think this plan is different because in the past, the agency heads were not asked to submit this plan by themselves,” said Thomas Schatz, the president of Citizens Against Government Waste. “The disrupters have returned to Washington.”

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