The White House Office of Management and Budget released the Trump Administration’s reorganization plan that includes a merger of the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, as well as, other proposals to reduce the size of the executive branch bureaucracy and eliminate overlap.

In 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to work on a comprehensive plan to reorganize the Executive Branch.

The administration spent a year hearing from stakeholders, agencies and the public ways in which the executive branch could be made “more efficient, effective, and accountable.”

Redundancy is a hallmark of the federal government, and efforts to eliminate it are welcome. Ideally, I’d like to see a bunch of departments eliminated. As you read through this understand I can include that caveat with just about every proposal in the plan. Reducing redundancy and streamlining the federal government is the next best thing.

I want to highlight a few of the proposals.

Merging the Education and Labor Departments

For instance, the proposal getting the most attention is merging the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor into the U.S. Department of Education and the Workforce. Neither department is constitutional and both should be eliminated, but at the very least I’d prefer not to see these two departments merge.

I shared my concerns over at Truth In American Education, and I thought I’d share them here as well.

  • This proposal will not end federal involvement in education; it will just move the responsibilities and oversight to a new department. So, unfortunately, it will not diminish their influence.
  • The merger of the Education and Labor Departments will further institutionalize the workforce development model of education. The Workforce Development model is tied to the testing and accountability reforms, Common Core, a hyper-focus on STEM, and corporate influence in K-12 education.
  • There are data privacy concerns: far too much student data has been shared with the U.S. Department of Labor as they have been funding state databases to link workforce data with education data. This merger, I’m afraid, will advance preK-workforce tracking.

With the U.S. Department of Education, a bolder idea would be to eliminate it with the Department of Justice addressing civil rights abuses in schools.  The Department of the Treasury could disburse Title I funding to states and other federal education dollars, preferably in the form of block grants. Better still, Congress should eliminate federal funding. Federal funding is a small piece of the education funding pie but drives many of the regulations. Congress would also have to repeal a number of education laws in order to eliminate the need for people to enforce them. It’s a pipe dream, I know. Frankly, I’d rather see status quo than see this merger happen.

This merger can only take place by an act of Congress, and at this point, I’m not seeing it. However, stranger things have happened.

Streamlining the U.S. Department of Agriculture

There are three proposals related to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that make sense to me.

They propose to move the non-commodity nutrition assistance programs currently in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service into the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) —which will be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

It never made sense to me that the USDA was responsible for food stamps. It makes more sense to have it in HHS. I don’t know why they are renaming it. “Human Services” adequately encompasses “public welfare,” but I really don’t have a strong opinion.

They also plan to reorganize the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the food safety functions of HHS’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into a single agency within USDA. That makes sense, there was too much overlap.

They also propose to move USDA’s rural housing loan guarantee and rental assistance programs to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Reorganizing Environmental Protection

The Trump Administration proposes to merge the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) National Marine Fisheries Service with the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Fish and Wildlife Service.

I could never understand why the National Marine Fisheries Service was under Commerce.

Also, they want to consolidate portions of DOI’s Central Hazardous Materials Program and USDA’s Hazardous Materials Management program into the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund program.

I wish they would do more here. There is tons of redundancy between the USDA, DOI, and EPA that could be addressed.

Stats Gathering Agencies Reorganized Under Commerce

They want to reorganize the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics under Commerce to increase cost-effectiveness and improve data quality while simultaneously reducing respondent burden on businesses and the public. They note that these three agencies “account for 53 percent of the U.S. Statistical System’s annual budget of $2.26 billion and share unique synergies in their collection of economic and demographic data and analysis of key national indicators.”

What the Federal Government Will Stop Doing

There were three things they wanted to “devolve” from “federal government activity.”

  • Sell the transmission assets owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Power Marketing Administrations within DOE, including those of Southwestern Power Administration, Western Area Power Administration, and Bonneville Power Administration, to encourage a more efficient allocation of economic resources and mitigate unnecessary risk to taxpayers.
  • Restructure the U.S. Postal System to return it to a sustainable business model or prepare it for future conversion from a Government agency into a privately-held corporation. The President’s Task Force on the United States Postal System will make recommendations on reforms towards this goal in August 2018.
  • Reorganize the Department of Transportation to better align the agency’s core missions and responsibilities, reduce transportation program fragmentation across the Government, and improve outcomes. Changes would include spinning off Federal responsibility for operating air traffic control services, integrating into DOT certain coastal and inland waterways commercial navigation activities and transportation security programs, and reassessing the structure and responsibilities of DOT’s Office of the Secretary.

I would have LOVED to see a longer list.

You can read the entire report below:

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