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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 01/26/2011

How would you reorganize the federal government?

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

President Obama said Tuesday night that he wants to dramatically overhaul the federal government by merging some agencies and departments together.

"We live and do business in the Information Age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black-and-white TV," Obama said during his State of the Union address.

He scored one of his biggest laughs by ticking off examples of government redundancies, noting that 12 agencies deal with exports, at least five deal with housing policy and others deal with food safety.

Indeed, the government's Export.gov Web site lists 11 federal agencies that deal with exports: the Energy Department, Export-Import Bank, International Trade Association, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Small Business Administration, the State Department, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the U.S. Trade Representative.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Agriculture Department's Rural Housing Service, the Federal Housing Administration, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and offices at the departments of Defense, Treasury and Veterans Affairs also deal with housing issues.

Food safety is handled by the Agriculture Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, according to FoodSafety.gov.

Clearly, Obama wants to find ways to merge agencies working on food safety, housing and trade.

Where would you cut?

Jitinder Kohli, a Center for American Progress senior fellow who authored a report on overhauling federal agencies, suggested the Obama administration should merge the U.S. Trade Representative, Commerce Department, the Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Small Business Administration into a new entity called the Competitiveness Department. Then, move the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration out of Commerce and give it to the Interior Department, Kohil said.

"They will also find a way forward on the statistical part of Commerce's work - it does not neatly fit into a Competitiveness Department," Kohil said. "There is a case for an independent statistical agency."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Tuesday suggested scrapping the Environmental Protection Agency and replacing it with a new department called the Environmental Solutions Agency, which would focus on creating "a cleaner environment through smarter regulation."

So what would you do? Fold USAID into the State Department? Close down the Education Department and turn its responsibilities over to the states? Share your thoughts via Twitter or in the comments section below.

@washingtonpost technical interoperability & merging ALL the massive duplicative efforts between the agencies & services.less than a minute ago via web

@washingtonpost Start by eliminating half of it.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Android

@washingtonpost Publicly funded elections (no more lobbyists)less than a minute ago via web

@washingtonpost First..replace ineffective leadership. Reduce redundent spending and wasted payroll on luxury staff. Cut govt. pensions/ins.less than a minute ago via web

Cabinet and Staff News: Spokesman Mike Hammer gets settled at the State Department while Tommy Vietor moves up. Rahm Emanuel is back on the Chicago mayoral ballot. Six Supreme Court justices attended the State of the Union, while Justice Clarence Thomas admits his failure to disclose his wife's employment and pay. Robert Gibbs says birthers "aren't rational."

CIA:
Bail granted for ex-CIA officer accused of leaking secrets: Jeffrey Sterling had been in custody since his arrest on Jan. 6 on charges that he illegally disclosed classified documents to a reporter between 2001 and 2006.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES:
Journal sues to open up Medicare database: The American Medical Association, the doctors' trade group, successfully sued the government in 1979 to keep secret how much money individual doctors receive from Medicare, and the ruling still stands.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:
U.S. embassy bomber gets life sentence without parole: The Ghailani case had been seen as a test of the Obama administration's stated goal of trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other detainees in federal court

Underwear bomb suspect's trial set for October: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is acting as his own lawyer, asked for a 2012 date and said he might not have enough time to prepare.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | January 26, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Eye Opener  
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Comments

Both DoEs, housing assistance, any board, commission, department, agency, bureau, adminstration or service that cannot demonstrate that their contributions to economy, efficiency or productivity of operations exceed their costs, using a 5 slide powerpoint presentation.

Posted by: ronjaboy | January 26, 2011 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Cut 10% from each and every department, program and entitlement. To do anything else risks a government bailout. This stops anything from being a catastrophic cut but attacks everything. There are no investments now. The economy is picking up and the alternative of tax increases would threaten the recovery.

Posted by: torope | January 26, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

The laws and rules are already in place to create an ideal civil service. The problem is that senior civil servants have placed themselves above the law, and the Department of Justice and the courts make sure that they can get away with lawbreaking. At a recent series of hearings before the Merit System Protection Board, I heard the testimony of senior Department of the Interior supervisors that they do not believe in hiring based on examination results. In practice, they hire only people they or their associates personally know. Education and experience requirements, which are imposed by employers in the private sector, universities, and research institutes, are largely ignored. Personal loyalty and trust in the persons leading the agencies are the main qualities sought when hiring or promoting personnel. Honesty and professional competence, on the other hand, are severe handicaps because situations occur in which honest and competent persons are forced to become whistleblowers, pointing out dangerous practices, waste, and violations of laws, which the senior officials wish to ignore. Senior civil servants also know that the successful completion of their missions would result in reduced budgets. Congress does not appropriate money for problems that have been solved. Complete failure in fulfilling an agency's mission is cause to induce Congress to make significant increases in the budget. Like noblemen during the Middle Ages, senior civil servants protect each others privileges, and no reform through the actions of inspectors general, politial appointees, or Department of Justice lawyers can ever be expected. If the law were followed, and civil servants were appointed based on only on qualifications and merit determined by competitive examinations, the civil service would become functional. If whistleblowers were rewarded for pointing out agency inadequacies and if agencies failing in their missions were completely abolished and replaced by entirely new organizations, the situation would dramatically change. At the present time, failure is rewarded by Congress, and success, or just being correct in one's reports to a supervisor, are causes for reprisal and elimination. As it is now, many agencies are nothing more than criminal organizations, with their own rules of silence, absolute obedience to the gang boss, and enrichment of the gang members at public expense. Within this criminal system, organized crime is referred to as "teamwork." If we do not elect members of Congress courageous enough to take on this new form of organized crime, our departments, bureaus, and agencies will bring our country to bankruptcy just to make a bunch of criminals with "sovereign immunity" rich.

Posted by: cwheckman | January 26, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I always said he should have been a " stand-up comic " Laughs ? The only thing funny about him is his face and those silly jug-ears of his that make him look like a cab coming down 5th Ave with all the doors open. There's a lot of ugliness in the World . But did that segment of America that votes from their recterial area have to ball it all into one, and put this thing before the World and tell them it's ours ?

Posted by: puck-101 | January 26, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse

What so many commenters show is a total lack of knowledge. It isn't just "bureaucrats" that makes government inefficient. It's also basic organization and assignment of responsibilities -- all done by Congress, not the current administration. At the time it may have been sensible, but like all organizations, it needs updating from time to time. Unfortunately, this has to come from Congress and not the administration. Just cutting budgets to starve departments is often counter-productive when that could end up starving agencies' investments in new technologies to be more efficient and responsive. Good government is a grown-up dilemma and we need adult solutions, not stupid sound bytes.

Posted by: chicago11 | January 26, 2011 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Require all members of Congress to pay for their own health insurance -- at group rates of course. It would save a lot of money and maybe some of them would realize what a burden it is for the average American citizen AND business.

Posted by: ccs53 | January 26, 2011 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Chicago11 I noticed you didn't propose any cuts or offer any suggestions. Does that mean you do not believe in cutting any government or do you believe in just increasing taxes to balance the budget.

Posted by: torope | January 26, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

ronjaboy pretty much has it right.

Do a zero based budget and require every segment of Government to justify its existance and ROI.

End subsidies of all kinds - phase them out over 5 years, if you can't survive without them you didn't have a business case to begin with.

Fix the entitlement programs.

Go to a flat tax.

Posted by: m1903a4 | January 26, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Streamlining the Federal Government is a no-brainier. But there will be no savings or increase in efficiency unless congress also reorganizes it's oversight committees. This is unlikely to happen as it would reduce the number of committee seats and diminish the power of junior members. Unless oversight is also restructured, agencies will continue to put the majority of their efforts into Managing Up rather then providing citizen services.

Posted by: jhalldc | January 26, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Take a look at just one small agency (less than 5000 employees), the US Marshals Service. Just 4 or 5 years ago they had a director, a deputy director and two or three assistant directors. Now they have the director, deputy director, two associate directors and 12, yes 12, assistant directors. The top leadership has grown by 300% while the agency as a whole has proably grown by only about 5%. And remember, each of those "leaders" has a staff and office suite. Talk about a bureaucracy!

Posted by: pzjagd1 | January 26, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Where would I cut? Deficit or surplus, where I would always cut, wasteful military excess. Get us out of these stupid wars immediately. Stop occupying the globe. Let other countries start picking up the tab. They don't eat up their budgets in this manner, they coast on our tax dollars.

Posted by: SarahBB | January 26, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Military-too many fringe benefits!!!!

Posted by: kode19 | January 26, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

If it takes him 2 years to see this, then with some really thick glasses he might find his way out of Washington. As I recall this was a campaign issue...guess he held it over to highlight his next run regardless of costs to the taxpayers.

Posted by: jbeeler | January 26, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The challenge of reorganizing the federal establishment is too big to be done in a year or two. As was done in the late 1940's, it will take something like the Hoover Commission(?) to study the problem and present the President and Congress with its recommendations. If started this year, the "2011 Commission" might present its recommendations in three to five years -- or at the beginning of Obama's second term or the first term of his successor. One idea circulating for years would have the Departments of Education and Labor merge since "learning to earn" is an objective they both share -- albeit in different ways -- as they seek to help young and old alike gain the knowledge and skills they need to become employable or re-employable. If this were to happen, the states would control local school systems where students should "learn to learn" what is needed to "learn to earn." The states will also be expected to oversee education systems that service every American who must focus on life-long learning from pre-K through "the final retirement."

Posted by: wentzelf | January 26, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

There are too many FRINGE BENEFITS for ALL government employees, from the county level to the federal! Make them pay for THEIR OWN insurance, STOP this ridiculous tradition of voting THEMSELVES an astronomical raise whenever they damned well please...which we always learn about LATER and that is done behind closed doors AT OUR EXPENSE!!!!!

Posted by: slamming | January 26, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

IMPEACH THE WHOLE DAMN LIBERAL PARTY DEMOCRATS THESE ARROGANT PEOPLE ARE KILLING THE AMERICAN ECONOMY. THEY ARE HEADING ON A STRAIGHT COURSE OF 2ND GREAT DEPRESSION. AMERICA DON'T JUST STAND THERE AN SAY OR DO NOTHING. IMPEACH THEM. ITS STARTS IN THE HOUSE OF REPS THEN GOES TO THE HOUSE FOR FINAL VOTE DO IT REPUBLICANS ITS NOT HARD YOU WANT ME TO COME THERE AN SHOW YOU HOW TO DO IT?

Posted by: JWTX | January 26, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

ATF and DEA along with the law enforcement/invesitgative aspect of the Secrect Service should be merged into the FBI. The other parts of the Secret Service that deals with protection and security of government personnel and elected officials should be merged with Federal Protective Service along with the Capital police.

The Department of Education should be severely gutted. We spend more per student than any of the countires above us in student performance. Money is obviously not the solution, so stop throwing that money away on administrators and "policy experts" that have clearly demonstrated no added value. Move to a more European style voucher system. That is something that has been blocked by Teachers Unions for decades.

Combine the analytical side of the NRO with the NGA, Leave NRO as an operations agency and change their operating model to a fee for service instead of receiveing an operating budget. Do a similar thing to the NSA. Remove the duplicate functions of the DIA, ONI, and AID. There is no need for the Army and Navy to have independent Intel divisions when they are both in the DoD. F the political turf wars.

I've got more but I have to get to work.

Posted by: akmzrazor | January 26, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

We, the people should be able to vote directly on Congress salaries and benefits.

Posted by: echurley | January 26, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

We, the people should be able to vote directly on Congress salaries and benefits.

Posted by: echurley | January 26, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Demolish the IRS by creating an across the board, flat tax for everyone. Can you imagine the trillions of dollars that would save, by not having salaries to pay to all the IRS employees?

Posted by: catjag | January 26, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

There is so much in the defense budget that the DOD itself does not want. They're forced to pay for things and buy things that are pet projects of members of Congress. The F-35 second engine is one example of this--the Pentagon only wants one engine. Talk to the generals, ask them what they think should be cut. It won't make sense to make all of their suggested cuts, but it would start a much-needed conversation. Defense has to be on the table because it's such a large portion of our budget.

Posted by: dkp01 | January 26, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

The largest welfare recipients in this country are large corporations. I am dreaming by saying this, but I would cut the special deals given out to these large coporations that include loopholes and tax cuts.

Cut out the tax cut to the richest 2%.

Remove the government healthcare package that congressmen get. The health care they receive should be the same that we get.

Repeal any Faith based initiative programs. The state should not be funding any religious programs in direct funds or tax cuts.

ATF has no real mission. The DEA and FBI are charged with all the responsibilites that the ATF has.

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | January 26, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The intelligence community - there are about 12 different agencies that overlap and don't share intel. It is ridiculous and too cumbersone to work well. And defense should get a major cut as well. The US spends 50% of the total GLOBAL amount spent on military.

Posted by: tricia_will | January 26, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I work at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. There are WAY TO MANY managers there. I'd bet this same problem exists in just about all US Government agencies.

Posted by: clematis77 | January 26, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

So, do we want a FED Government to shrink back to the days of the Post Office and Customs Fee Collectors? I would think not. Cutting domestic programs many already running with shoe-string budgets is not the answer. Hello Defense Department..Can anyone explain why we are fighting two wars, one in probably the most remote country on Earth?

I would trim back all Defense spending 50% and reduce the Homeland Security by a similar amount. This will free up $350B+ or so, then begin to re-organize the departments to better serve a 21st century country. Not sure where we will wind up, but it will be more efficient than today.

Enjoy

Posted by: johnm12 | January 26, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

JWTX: Before YOU do anything IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU NEED TO GET A GRIP! If YOU have all the answers, why aren't you in DC right now as a congressman? And it seems to me that Republicans are the EPITOME of arrogance!!! (AND hypocracy) You people were raising all that hell about the president smoking, but BOEHNER was on ''60 Minutes" and said he has NO INTENTION of quitting! Why aren't you HYPOCRITES talking about THAT????? WE ALL KNOW WHY...HE'S A CONSERVATIVE so he's right as rain!!!!!!

Posted by: slamming | January 26, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

In response to "slamming" -

The only way to "STOP this ridiculous tradition of voting THEMSELVES an astronomical raise" is for us to vote them out of office. Who do you vote for? If you are voting for the incumbent then you yourself are rewarding them for giving themselves raises. Most people think THEIR OWN elected official is golden. But obviously most people are wrong. How many of us really critically analyze our representatives voting actions? It's been said before - throw the bums out. This was done to a certain extent last November - but there are still a lot of self-serving polititians in Congress. Throw the bums out.

Posted by: clematis77 | January 26, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

It really isn’t difficult. The information is in the public domain. There are any numbers of government oversight organizations (middle of the road, not the conservative or liberal “think tanks”) that have studied this problem for years. I am sure that even “60 minutes” or the “New York Times” (maybe even the Washington Post) could pull together a group of middle-class Americans and come up with the “90% solution.” This administration, if it is an adult lead administration (it is), already has a recommendation in some desk drawer with identified efficiencies and savings.

Bottom line is that this won’t take a 2-3 year study.

I would enjoy seeing President Obama present the Republican-dominated House and the barely democratic majority Senate with a firm recommendation on re-organizing government for greater efficiency and to eliminate the redundancy (2-12 times over) we see in government today. Make them engage in a public debate.

Then we will see exactly how serious congress and especially the Republicans are as to cutting costs and improving efficiency. Of course, then the American people will see that congresses (and the Republicans) aren’t serious about government efficiency. As someone previously noted, they don’t care what is good for the American people, they only care what is good for their personal power and their ability to generate wealth for themselves and the people who pay them the largest bribes (sorry, campaign contributions). Take away duplicative and triplitive oversight committees, take away the power of individual congressmen and senators to have influence on padding the budget to their own reward, and efficiencies will be gained for the overall good of the American taxpayer.

The best example is the fiasco otherwise known as the “department of homeland security.” When it was created from about a dozen different organizations, all with a multitude of oversight committees themselves, congress demanded that congressional oversight not be streamlined. Instead, HLS reports to dozens of individual committees, not with the concern of better oversight, but to ensure individual congressmen and senators on those committees are able to “wet their beaks” to their own (not the American peoples) benefit.

Come on Mr. President, come on think tanks, and come on media. Let’s put some proposals on the table and make congress and the republicans squirm. Just maybe something good will come out of it.

But Mr. President, don’t bring it up unless you plan to do something about it. Otherwise, you have simply wasted the time of the people you have an oath to support and protect.

Posted by: highexpectations | January 26, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

A no-brainer: we have to cut defense spending. But because America worships military force and violence, it will never happen.

Posted by: weylguy | January 26, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I have worked for a federal agency for three years after more than 15 years in the private sector. I am sadly, constantly amazed at the lackluster, mediocre and sometimes outright poor managers with which I work. At least at the agency where I am, there is absolutely no incentive for anyone to improve, change or modernize. People get into these GS13, 15 or 15 positions and literally sit there for decades. Step increases are taken for granted and people are given awards like Special Achievement awards for work in the private sector that would be considered average. There is no "carrot or stick" to motivate managers and as such employees beneath them are demoralized and unmotivated too. Something needs to be done to change the organizational cultural, at least at the agency where I work.

Posted by: WorldGirl | January 26, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

So many posters with such simple solutions. Talk about living in a fantasy world! The problem with the debate is that very few, citizens and politicians alike, have no clue about public finance and administration as opposed to private. Cost/benefit is a much more complex formulation than profit/loss. Apples and oranges. Let's start with DOD and DEA. Before you argue with this suggestion, look at how much these two spend and really think about the return and how you value it.

Posted by: TheDiz | January 26, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Where would I cut...easy - end the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, cut the defense (war) budget in half. We will be safer and our deficit problem goes away.

Posted by: pblotto | January 26, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Where would I cut...easy - end the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, cut the defense (war) budget in half. We will be safer and our deficit problem goes away.

Posted by: pblotto | January 26, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I would kill the F35 Fighter aircraft program completely. Reinvest in an air tanker and upgrade our existing fighter aircraft (newer models). Combine like or similar DoD acquisition programs under a single acquisition headquarters with joint responsibility (like DARPA) and purchase more items off the shelf. Technology turns over faster than our DoD Acquistion and Budget cycles allow. By the time DoD acquires an item, its already outdated. Move forward on the $78B cut that Secretary Gates recommends as a beginning. Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Let them take care of themselves. We cannot afford to be the World Cop. Utilize our forces to secure our borders. Increase the minimum contribution to Social Security(SS) from 40 credits to 80 credits. Eliminate the miniumm SS drawing age of 62.

Posted by: ruffinr | January 26, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

It's all about finding where people are doing the same jobs, and uniting those people.

For instance, I know it's been tried, but we need to combine the resources of the CIA, FBI, NSA, DHS, US Marshals, Secret Service, Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force and put them all under "Defense" - internal and external.

In fact, why don't we distill things to ten Cabinet-level departments, and no more: Commerce, Defense, Domestic Development, Education, Energy, Environment, Health, Justice, State, and Treasury.

Roll Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security into Defense, and roll HUD, Transportation, and Labor into a new Department of Domestic Development. Agriculture is part of Commerce, and Interior becomes the Department of the Environment.

The fewer the departments, the easier it is to denote where one stops and another begins, and thus, where money is actually going.

Posted by: treymix | January 26, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

It is well to remember the report of the Taft Commission on Economy and Efficiency in 1910-1913 (a Presidential commission formed to study government reorganization). One of it's findings was that it is quite possible to do something efficiently and economically that need not be done at all. Maybe that quote came from the Brownlow Committee (1936-37), or, from one of the Hoover Commissions (1947-49, 1953-56). It is certain that it came before the Ash Council (1969-1971), or the Grace Commission (1984). The moral of the story is that "Everything is new to those who don't know anything!"

Posted by: jdrd58 | January 26, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Close all overseas military bases and bring all the troops, support staff and equipment home. Our Carriers are our first line for military action. Then, clean out the Pentagon. All staff used in support of overseas bases will not be needed. Cut out all spending on new hardware, plane and ship development.

Get rid of Dept. of Education and H.U.D. Education has spent Billions and look at the test scores Nationwide. We need to go back to the 1950's methods of education. H.U.D. has spent Billions and look at what we have, a bunch of slums that breed crime, ignorance and violence.

Forcefully clean out all of the Health and Science centers. FDA, CDC, NIH and anything related to them are full of duplicate programs. In addition, every M.D. and Ph.D wants his group to be an "Office" so he/she can have "Office of the Director" on the door and he/she is called "Director".

Add staff to go after fraud in Medicare & Medicade. We have to have greater staff in the Agencies as well as the D.O.J. to crack down on and stop the blatant theft from these programs. Both are loosing Billions as it is.

These are just a few of the big changes that need to be made now. Ask for more of these comments in 6 - 9 months and we'll see if Congress has done anything.

Posted by: tpk1 | January 26, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

CLEMATIS: I'm glad you asked that quwestion, because...ironically...I now am an INDEPENDENT. I used to be a Democrat and thought that was THE ONLY WAY to go, but am now 100% behind our new governor in Iowa who is TRIMMING the state budget rather than spending like a drunken sailor. And...like you..I am watching and will vote AGAINST those who spend recklessly, REGARDLESS of party!

Posted by: slamming | January 26, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse


We do not have to cut anything. All we have to do is to get American Corporations to actually PAY INCOME TAXES in the United States! Then, we can tax those who got rich on the Bush wars, and make sure we collect.

It is not appropriate for the Super-rich to pay A LOWER TAX RATE than those who actually WORK FOR A LIVING. Tax the rich.

Reduce the secret "black" programs that steal money for other programs and return nothing but huge debts to War Profiteers.

Stop wasting our resources, our futures, our very children in the conservative need for self-righteous violence. Prosecute those responsible for the Rape of Iraq.

It's a start.

Posted by: gkam | January 26, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Cont....

Merge all science and research agencies under the National Science Foundation. This includes NASA. Privatize space ports. US companies already buy launch services from foriegn space ports. Why not boost our domestic capability.

Pass a law that requires a budget surplus equal to 5% of the national debt for as long as the national debt exceeds 15% of the GDP for that budgetary year. Since our current debt is so high, 5% is not currently attainable, so start at 1% and increase that annually by .25% until we reach 5%.

Also, and this is critical, do not allow agencies to jostle employees leading up to reorganization. If you do you will get what the DHS got...other agency's rejects.

Posted by: akmzrazor | January 26, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"Slamming"- Welcome to the "party" of independents, I'm one too. And thank you for being involved and "watching". I wish all Americans were.

Posted by: clematis77 | January 26, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

There are plenty of ways to more effectively organize.
I would recreate the Office of Technology Assessment which played a key role in the formation of our nations technology policy and direction in the past.

Posted by: steveandjanereed1 | January 26, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

There are 14 different Environmental Laws across the government, each belonging to a different agency. EPA, Corps of Engineers, NOAA, Fish and Wildlife Service, etc, all have some responsibility. Federal grantees have a burdensome and bureaucratic process filing their environmental reviews in 14 different places before they can begin any construction project. The environmental oversight laws and regulations should be centralized in one place and made substantially more efficient.

Posted by: tttttttt1 | January 26, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

tricia_will,

That's not really a fair argument as you are comparing apples to oranges. 80% of the world's nations do not have standing armies, they have unpaid militias. The US, being an all volunteer millitary pays more in salary and benefits per soldier than any other nation. We spend more per soldier on battlefield survival gear, such as body armor and medical supplies. Other nations our size or larger, such as China, fill their ranks with conscripts. Because of their numbers they are paid little and their leaders don't care so much about their survival becuase it is cheaper to replace them with another conscript.

Posted by: akmzrazor | January 26, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

You should not use a hatchet when a scalpel will do the job. You have to go program by program. An arbitrary across-the-board cut is a cop-out for politicians who are too wimpy to do their homework. Programs that have a high return on investment need to be expanded, and those with lower ROI should be eliminated, reshaped, or combined with other programs.

For instance, for every $1 invested in the WIC food program, $14 is saved by avoiding health costs of malnutrition.

For every $1 invested in Lead Based Paint abatement grants, about $8 is saved by avoiding future healthcare and mental health costs due to toxic poisoning.

Other programs that are redundant should be combined and re-shaped to be more effective. For instance, HUD has 3 major housing subsidy programs (public housing, Section 8, and multifamily assistance) These programs all could be combined and streamlined.

Posted by: tttttttt1 | January 26, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse


How about getting rid of the oppressive Bush Bureaucracy, such as the Directorate of Fatherland Security or whatever Bush called his National Police. They are only part of Big Brother controlling our lives. Who inflicted the Patriot act against us? The same folk whose Criminal Negligence gave us the failures of 9/11 - unless they were intentional.

Posted by: gkam | January 26, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Caliphacy Note... i like united Detroit plan, it looks like a promising venture i also like China business ventures "a lot of money their"... oh that wasn't the story the story is about federal reduction... ... ... YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THOSE CLOWNS,BECAUSE HEZBOLLAH IS NOT A TERRORIST GROUP "I'VE BEEN A MEMBER SINCE 1993" I AM NO TERRORIST I'M A PRIEST... A CLERIC... ONE OF THE IMAMS"WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE AN ISLAMIC POLITICAL CARTOONIST/WRITER, BESIDES CONTEMPORARY ARTIST" YEAH YOU NEED TO SHUT THAT FEDERAL CARTOON DOWN... "IT'S DESTROYING THE COUNTRY"

Posted by: ahmadmali | January 26, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Just because I like to nit-pick. This article has a few inaccuracies. When talking about export agencies, I'm sure the author must mean the "International Trade Administration," not the "International Trade Association." Also, FDA, NIH, and CDC are all agencies under DHHS and all play roles in food safety (yes, probably). It is true that FDA and USDA have an awkward relationship when it comes to oversight of the food chain; their roles should be more clearly delineated.

There are too many 'security' and law enforcement agencies that perform overlapping functions (e.g. CIA, DIA, NSA, USSS, FBI, TSA, to name a few); shrinking their number and improving communications would reduce duplication and could actually provide better results.

Posted by: andrew_m | January 26, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

What about local police, sheriff depts and such... and then every state has a high crop of state police that duplicate! In our country in MD, it's a toss of a coin when there is a crime scene. You have state police zipping up and down the highways in our county while the sheriff sit eating donuts... and visa versus. Eliminate ALL state enforcement and require local enforcement to focus on their communities, not national drug problems... these enforcement dept spend billions on toys and waste work years playing with them. This needs to stop!

Posted by: darbyohara | January 27, 2011 7:09 AM | Report abuse

After reading the comment above by "cwheckman" I had to reply. I have never heard someone so clearly explain what I have experienced over 26 years, working for four (4) different federal agencies. I am a highly skilled, honest and efficient budget analyst. The only way I made it to a GS-15 was by moving around and taking tough jobs. Well, here I am, four (4) years left (not smart to leave government at this point), and you guessed it, manipulated out the budget office/process. The administrative challenges in my agency could be solved in a week, but I am not allowed to do anything beyond simple tasks. I even went to my agency head and explained that it is not fair to me, nor the taxpayer that I do not have GS-15 type duties. So far this has fallen on deaf ears. I am tired of moving, I want to bloom where I am planted and move to efficient and effectiveness right here. Talk about waste, fraud and abuse - not to mention the mental health toll on myself and others. Thanks to cwheckman for validating us.

Posted by: Letsfixit1 | January 28, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

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