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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Government Reorganization

Here's a bit of news that essentially nobody has seen:  the Office of Management and Budget directed all federal agencies to conduct a process of self review asking for items, tasks or regulations that can be cut to make the government more efficient, less costly, and more responsive.  This means that programs that don't work can be selected for diminution or termination.  It means that reporting requirements that are duplicative or unnecessary can be dumped.  It means that areas that could be coordinated with other agencies might actually be made better.  In short, it means that for the first time in a great many years, the federal government will actually look at carrying out its current missions in a better and more efficient way rather than just adding new programs and requirements to the items already being done.

No doubt, we will shortly hear the horrified screams from the Democrats about how cutting this or that program will leave people to die or how letting agencies recommend which programs should survive or be changed is a victory for lobbyists, but that really is nothing but pure nonsense.

Consider these few points:

1.  There are enormous numbers of duplicative federal programs and requirements.  For example, before entering into a new contract above a certain size, a federal agency has to write a memorandum with the details to OMB, a memo containing slightly different information to Congress, and a few additional reports as well.  By combining all those reports/memoranda into one unified report sent to each place, literally millions of manhours could be saved with no loss of information.  That move alone could save over a hundred million dollars per year.  As another example, there are currently more than 100 federal job training programs whose coverage overlaps in many places.  By combining these programs into four or five programs that target separate groups, the costs incurred could be greatly reduced and the savings could either be used to reduce the deficit or to increase the number of people being trained.

2.  No one knows better than the agencies themselves which requirements are the most unnecessary and onerous.  Hiring a consultant to come in and render a report might identify some items, but an outsider will not have the day to day experience of the agency personnel to guide them in identifying superfluous regulations.

3.  There are many government programs that just don't work or whose purpose went away long ago.  The best example of all time was the mohair subsidies paid by the feds to ranchers who raised animals that provide that mohair.  The production was needed during World War II so that there would be adequate domestic supplies for certain types of uniforms, and after foreign sources had been cut off.  Once the war ended in 1945, the need for the subsidies was over since the foreign sources were once again available.  Nevertheless, it took over another 30 years before Congress finally noticed the millions being spent on this program and ended it.  There are literally scores of programs of this sort that could be jettisoned at great savings for the USA.

The process started by OMB is scheduled to continue over the next year and is then to be followed by actual reorganization.  It's an amazing difference from the Obama years.  Under Obama, no one paid attention to the competence of the federal government in doing its work or the cost of doing that work.  That indifference to results led to messes like the Obamacare exchange websites that still, to this day, do not work as originally intended.  It has taken President Trump just five months to put results and competence back into the lexicon of the federal government.  It is a major positive change.

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