Trump Issues Executive Order on Reorganizing Government

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

As numerous civilian agencies absorb the likely impacts of cuts proposed by the Trump Administration to fund its military buildup, there are signs of even deeper cuts ahead for next year.

On Monday, Trump signed an executive order requiring his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to propose a plan “to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies… components of agencies, and agency programs.”

“Within 180 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall submit to the Director a proposed plan to reorganize the agency, if appropriate, in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of that agency,” the order states.

Mulvaney would submit a plan to the White House based on agency and public input.

“The proposed plan shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions,” the order states.

The executive order is below.

EXECUTIVE ORDER
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR REORGANIZING THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Purpose. This order is intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch by directing the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director) to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies (as defined in section 551(1) of title 5, United States Code), components of agencies, and agency programs.

Sec. 2. Proposed Plan to Improve the Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability of Federal Agencies, Including, as Appropriate, to Eliminate or Reorganize Unnecessary or Redundant Federal Agencies. (a) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall submit to the Director a proposed plan to reorganize the agency, if appropriate, in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of that agency.

(b) The Director shall publish a notice in the Federal Register inviting the public to suggest improvements in the organization and functioning of the executive branch and shall consider the suggestions when formulating the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section.

(c) Within 180 days after the closing date for the submission of suggestions pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the Director shall submit to the President a proposed plan to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies. The proposed plan shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions. The proposed plan shall include recommendations for any legislation or administrative measures necessary to achieve the proposed reorganization.

(d) In developing the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section, the Director shall consider, in addition to any other relevant factors:

(i) whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are appropriate for the Federal Government or would be better left to State or local governments or to the private sector through free enterprise;

(ii) whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are redundant, including with those of another agency, component, or program;

(iii) whether certain administrative capabilities necessary for operating an agency, a component, or a program are redundant with those of another agency, component, or program;

(iv) whether the costs of continuing to operate an agency, a component, or a program are justified by the public benefits it provides; and

(v) the costs of shutting down or merging agencies, components, or programs, including the costs of addressing the equities of affected agency staff.

(e) In developing the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section, the Director shall consult with the head of each agency and, consistent with applicable law, with persons or entities outside the Federal Government with relevant expertise in organizational structure and management.

Sec. 3. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
March 13, 2017.

  • JamesG

    Heh. Lets see how fast the legions of professional bureaucrats will march to their professional gallows.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Regulations, and the regulatory bodies populated by those “professional bureaucrats”, are for the purpose of protecting society for the benefit of all. This deregulation is designed, not to improve efficiencies for the benefit of all, but to further enrich the already well off. Alas, those metaphorical gallows will be literally occupied by poor dead children. We know who you are and what you are: hate, greed, and a disturbing lack of compassion.

  • JamesG

    Oh noes! Think of the Chil’ren!

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Of course, you make my point….but then, what else could you do

  • JamesG

    Your “point” is ridiculous. Thus…

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    it’s ridiculous that you keep on making my point

  • JamesG

    I know you are but what am I?

  • windbourne

    hold on.
    Even you have to admit that bureaucrats in ANY gov. have a long history of protecting their jobs while at the same time, we have seen plenty of pols work to protect their friends and familes best interest.
    You both have very valid points. We really can NOT afford to continue running massive deficits. That is why I was a fan of Boehner/Obama’s agreement about $1 increase needed $4 spending cuts. Anything to re-balance our budget.

    Now, with that said, trump continues to come off as a total loon, but I suspect that he is basically hand waving to avoid ppl looking at certain areas. For example, all of this BS started when he could not stop the FBI investigation into his dealings with Russia. Everything appears to be saying watch the right hand while his left hand is being a total traitor to America and our Ideals.

    It is just difficult to know since he is up to so much BS.
    You know james is a decent guy and I think that you will find that he and other right wingers simple want a balanced budget and gov cleaned up.

    While Trump’s budget is his and like Os’ will very likely be thrown out, I suspect that the real budget will be a lot closer to what we can all accept.

  • redneck

    In theory, regulations and the regulatory bodies are supposed to be protecting society. In reality, they often cause more harm than good. Whether these particular changes are good or bad is a totally different discussion.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Have Republican administrations ever ACTUALLY been interested in controlling deficits?.

  • windbourne

    Prior to reagan. ALWAYS.
    Nixon, Ike, Teddy, Lincoln, etc ALL cared about the deficits.
    The GOPs that created the great depression, did not.

    Since reagan, the only one GOP that has actually cared was Poppa Bush (and I regard him as Republican, unlike reagan, and W, and probably Trump, but we will see ).

    But Boehner was concerned and pushed a decent deal with O.
    So, yeah.
    I am HOPING that trump has some decent Republicans on-board that WILL focus on balancing the budget.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    “In reality, they often cause more harm than good.”
    Is this a totally unfounded assertion?. Do you think that clean air and clean water cause more harm than good?. Does it do more harm than good to monitor the biosphere for potentially adverse trends?, regardless of whether you subscribe to AGW or not.

    That’s not to say that any given regulation or regulatory body should not be open to revision, reorganisation, or removing. However, such action should be on the basis of data and analysis, not purely on political philosophy – or in this case brazen and obvious moral and financial corruption.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    You don’t need to HOPE – just look at the proposed legislation and executive orders – there is no hope this deep into the swamp.

  • redneck

    I don’t consider it unfounded at all when I have experienced it first hand.

  • windbourne

    What an admin ask for and what they get are 2 very different things.

  • windbourne

    huh.
    Were you around back in the 60s?
    Look up Love Canal.
    Google for dead great lake.
    Here is a double image of NYC from 1973 and 2013:
    https://www.epa.gov/air-pollution-transportation/accomplishments-and-success-air-pollution-transportation

    Many Americans look down on China and India for their massive pollution, and yet, they look like we did, only on a MUCH BIGGER SCALE.

    Those wonderful sunsets in LA? That was PURE POLLUTION.

    Here is LA 1948, vs Bejing 2013.
    https://eos.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/PARRISH_4823_Fig-1_rgb.jpg

    Look Familiar?

    https://eos.org/features/urbanization-air-pollution-now

    So, cleaned up our air and water? EPA and Regulations. Who started that? Nixon. The reason is that we were killing our environment, and it was growing.

    We have a serious mercury issue in our environment. For example, if you eat a lot of freshwater fish from most parts of America, as 2-3 x / week, then within a year, you WILL be in the hospital OR dead.
    Why?
    Mercury poisoning. And it is pretty serious.

    Co2 is gone ape and IS causing lots of issues with our weather patterns and climate. For example, I live in Denver, CO. which is about 2-3 inches of water ABOVE being a high plains desert. Within 20 years, we are expected to look far more like Santa Fe than what we look like now, which is very much a desert.

    I will agree that Regs can and have gone overboard in areas. The CO2 regs is worthless considering that we subsidize fossil fuel so much. Far far better to slowly increase a tax on goods based on where the worst part comes from.

    And down the road, we should do the same for Mercury, Lead, etc. IOW, take advantage of the fact that America is the world’s largest importer to clean up ALL OF US, not just America.

  • redneck

    Which is why I said that whether these particular changes are good or bad is a different discussion. The existence of some good results does not translate into all or even most results being positive.

    There are a lot government actions that are bad even without discussing he waste issue. I’m going to leave it there as we could go back and forth forever on the details.

  • duheagle

    Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, famously proposed to implement zero-based budgeting for federal agencies. He never followed though, of course, but what Trump has outlined in his recent EO is not going to do any more “damage” to the federal government than Carter might have done had he actually meant to do what he campaigned on. Trump, of course, does mean it. What a difference 40 years makes.

    The EPA is a prime example of an agency that has been ruined by toxic political philosophy – progressive political philosophy. The EPA should be chasing after actual pollutants. Instead, it’s highest priority is to utterly crush the U.S. economy in a vain and doomed effort to cut CO2 emissions that do no harm and which other countries produce way more of than we do in any case. Madness. All of it motivated entirely by political ideology unmoored to any empirically justifiable real-world rationale.

    Carter did actually do away with a federal regulatory agency on his watch, though – the Interstate Commerce Commission. The job of the old ICC was to decide how much bus companies, truckers, railroads and airlines could charge to move freight and/or passengers. It also got to decide whether new companies could enter these businesses. Ticket prices, freight rates and market entry had to be applied for and approved before they could take place.

    Due to a phenomenon known to economists – especially those of the Public Choice school – as “regulatory capture,” the ICC, in practice, kept potential new competitors out of all these markets for decades and kept prices for transportation services artificially high. Incumbent companies make campaign contributions, you see, and politicians are happy to lean on regulators to do the bidding of their big contributors. Regulators, for their part, are often happy to comply. Especially if it’s implicitly understood that there might just be cushy, well-paid, low-perspiration jobs as, say, V.P.’s of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs waiting for especially cooperative regulators after they leave office and/or retire. Needless to say, the regulators were inclined to look very much askance at petitions from upstart politically unconnected entrepreneurs who wanted to enter any of the regulated industries. You might find it instructive to look into the history of how the founders of Southwest Airlines had to fight for years to get their business launched.

    Credulous leftists may believe regulatory agencies always act in the “public interest,” but economists, who actually have both the inclination and the tools to look at and analyze regulatory agencies in action, tend to have a very different view. As the saying goes, “Follow the money.” The “public interest” doesn’t generally pay off nearly as well do regulatees.

    You wanna talk corruption? I got yer corruption right here!

  • duheagle

    Nobody is saying that regulating actual pollutants is a bad idea. Top-down command and control regulation can work for certain kinds of problems. L.A.’s air is a lot cleaner now than it was in 1974 when I first moved here.

    The problem is that regulatory agencies never seem inclined to stop once they’ve actually solved a problem – or at least solved it to the extent it can be reasonably solved. Responding to institutional pressures, such agencies often keep trying to broaden and deepen their missions. Having cut smog a lot by dealing with the big sources, the California Air Resources Board has successively targeted smaller and smaller pollution sources. Volatile Organic Compounds from car paints used in body shops has been a big target in recent years. So are exhaust emissions from lawn and garden power equipment such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers. It has also become impossible to buy a gas can that actually works to fill any of these tools up because of mandatory “vapor sequestration” nozzles that reduce flow rates to a trickle or fail entirely.

    Fundamentally, L.A. will always have dirtier air than most other places because it sits in a sort of topographical broken bowl formed by several mountain ranges to the north, south and east with only the westward-facing coast open. Prevailing on-shore winds push pollutants up against the various mountains where they’re trapped for extended periods. California’s aboriginal natives called Santa Monica Bay the “Bay of Smokes” because even pre-white man, the place was always hazy.

    There is also a widely held belief among many regulators that any amount of a pollutant is damaging and that damage accumulates. Neither of these suppositions is supported by actual science. On the contrary, science has found that a small amount of a toxin tends to improve one’s resistance to it. Vaccines work via an analogous mechanism. It has also become clear that a lot of children with asthma suffer from it because their childhood environments were too clean. Encountering toxins and allergens in modest quantities during childhood makes the body less apt to overreact to such later in life.

    The world is complicated and too much regulation is based on simplistic bromides and old wives tales that have no empirical validity.

    As for other possible cuts in the size and scope of the federal government, those will, it seems, be based on the results of the studies mandated by Trump’s recent executive order. That means they might not be implemented for up to another year. I, though, have, in the meantime, a modest little list. And they’d none of them be missed. No, they’d none of them be missed.

    We have a Commerce Department. Why, then, do we also need Departments for Specific industries such as Transportation, Agriculture and Energy?

    The Agriculture Department is very venerable. Its origin was in a time when most Americans were farmers. It’s been a very long time since that was the case. At present, I believe only about 1% of the U.S. population works in primary agriculture. The department’s main jobs are to distribute price support payments, control how much land is under cultivation, grade and inspect food products and provide so-called “extension service” – in essence, telling farmers how to farm.

    Price supports only apply to a few crops, but they are generally the biggies, at least in terms of acreage and tonnage. Price supports are supposedly a defense against boom and bust for farmers. But a lot of big farms, especially those raising price-supported grains, only grow one commodity. The solution to persistent overproduction and collapsed prices for a given commodity is to “diversify one’s portfolio” by growing more than one thing. Enviros like this. Individual farmers – those few that remain – tend to like this. Big corporate agro tends not to like this. My attitude is that Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland should be able to function in a real market like other big corporations do. Get rid of all price supports.

    Same thing applies to “land banking” and any other scheme to take agricultural land out of production for other than market-related reasons. Stop doing that. Most especially do not pay farmers not to grow crops. That’s just price supports in a poor disguise.

    Agricultural inspection and grading is still largely done the way it was a century ago. Inspectors look at stuff and sometimes sniff it. They don’t use medical-style tests for the actual presence of harmful pathogens. This whole area is badly in need of catching up to the rest of the modern world. Reform the Agricultural Inspection Service and move it to the Commerce Dept.

    The Agricultural Extension Service started about the same time as land grant aggie colleges were established soon after the Civil War. In a time when a lot of farmers were both illiterate and innumerate, having people who could go around and spread the word about the latest best practices made some sense. That hasn’t been true for decades.

    No other industry has what amounts to a roving squad of tutors on the federal payroll. The agriculture industry as a whole, subsets of it and individual enterprises are all perfectly capable of doing R&D and profiting by same. That’s been true for a long time. One of my college roommates, himself a farm boy, was pursuing a graduate degree in Ag. Eng. by assisting a professor with research being paid for by a large family corn-growing enterprise. Kill the Agricultural Extension Service.

    The Department of Transportation (DOT) does some standards-making for transportation-related components such as tires, some transportation-related regulation, of which the most significant is probably the Corprate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks and, weirdly, is not the umbrella organization for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which investigates air, rail and maritime accidents. The NTSB is a stand-alone outfit. Go figure.

    The CAFE standards should be dumped. Consumers can decide what kind of mileage they want their cars to get based on the price of gasoline and diesel. CAFE came into being when the U.S. was a big net importer of petroleum and its price was skyrocketing. Now, thanks to fracking, the U.S. is on the verge of being a significant petroleum net exporter.

    The DoT’s standards-making should be transferred to NIST. The rest of the agency should simply be shut down.

    The Dept. of Energy (DOE) does a lot of things. It has been in charge of warhead production for the U.S. nuclear deterrent forces, for example, and also runs the nation’s big physics labs. This is, to put it bluntly, nuts. The nuclear bombs need to be spun off either to the military services or to some specialized stand-alone entity that deals solely with the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

    Licensing and regulation of nuclear energy plants needs the same treatment. A modest, very specialized stand-alone agency needs to be stood up. Perhaps a reconstituted subset of the long-defunct Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).

    The big physics labs need to be handed over to the National Science Foundation except perhaps for Livermore, Sandia and Los Alamos which are deeply entwined with military nukes and other weapons research. These should go to the same agency that handles the nuclear arsenal. Development of naval propulsion reactors should go to this agency as well along with the Arco lab.

    The rest of DOE should be scrapped. Especially the appliance energy efficiency part. An appliance should be as energy-efficient as possible, but not more so. Current DOE mandates are already on the wrong side of “more so.” Future standards will only be worse. Let the market determine how efficient appliances need to be. Kill Energy Star.

    I could continue for quite awhile in this vein, but I should really post this before it gets to be tomorrow.

  • duheagle

    Actually, the deficit has usually had more to do with who controls Congress than who’s President. Reagan had a Dem House and a Rep Senate his first six years in office. His first two years in office were recession years. The deficit rose sharply those two years and then noodled around being roughly flat at the higher level. The deficit dropped sharply again during Reagan’s last two years in office even though the Dems took back the Senate. Income tax receipts were very strong those two years owing to the supply-side tax cuts having fully kicked in.

    That trend continued into Bush 41’s first year. After that, Bush 41’s general squishiness, the Dem Congress and a brewing recession combined to hike the deficit once more. He was no deficit hawk.

    Clinton had declining deficits his first five years in office and growing surpluses thereafter. He was quite immoderately fortunate in five particulars: he had no recession on his watch, the Soviet Union had collapsed a year and a half before he took office, his wife proved unequal to the task of screwing up the nation’s healthcare system, he had a Rep Congress for his last six years in office and his presidency coincided with a huge and long-running bull market and a cascade of tech IPO’s as the Internet Revolution succeeded the PC Revolution as the prime driver of the economy. Tax revenues skyrocketed. Defense spending plunged. The Reps in Congress kept him from profligate spending on anything else. Hillary failed in her attempt to nationalize and f**k up a huge piece of the nation’s economy. Clinton was quite possibly the luckiest man to ever occupy the White House.

    Bush 43 won his first election just as the Dot Com Bubble popped, but he also lost a Rep majority in the Senate and held the House by a thread. Then 9/11 happened. The economy staggered. The Afghan War started. The deficit rose. The Iraq War started. The deficit rose. The Reps got the Senate back and boosted their margin a bit in the House, defying expectations. The deficit rose slightly, but the economy improved. Bush 43 won re-election. Deficits continued to fall. Then Bush 43 lost both houses of Congress to the Dems. He tried, but also failed to do anything about the mountain of risky mortgage dept the Dems had forced the banks and ratings companies to approve. The deficit rose sharply during his last year in office. The Housing Bubble popped. The stock market tanked.

    Obama took office with a filibuster-proof Dem majority in the Senate. His first year in office the deficit tripled. Recessionary conditions and very anemic growth persisted through Obama’s entire eight years in office. Tens of millions fell out of the labor force. Obama ran four consecutive trillion-plus dollar deficits. Republicans took back the House in a big way in 2010. The deficit was so large and tax revenues so anemic, deficit fighting was barely a holding action. Obama doubled the national debt on his watch.

    That’s the real story.

  • windbourne

    no, you have taken to rewriting history (and earlier, science).

    All presidents work with congress to get a budget.
    Obama, CLinton, and reagan all blocked congress to get what they wanted in various years.
    Obama and Clinton blocked to lower the deficits but keep their civilian spending,
    while reagan blocked to get his military increases.
    For all intents and purposes, the deficit NEVER went down under reagan. He was spending at over 200B / year, except for his first and third year. IOW, even though the economy was doing fine, he continued to INCREASE deficit spending.

    That is why in modern history (basically, our lifetimes), reagan was by FAR the largest deficit spender by increasing it 186%.
    W was second at 101%.
    O was 3rd at 68%.
    https://www.thebalance.com/us-debt-by-president-by-dollar-and-percent-3306296

    For Example, you claim that he had filibuster-proof majority while disregarding the fact that the GOP fought it for 6 months and that Kennedy was out for the last 12. IOW, he had about 6 months of it.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidents_of_the_United_States_and_control_of_Congress

    Likewise, you say that O tripled the deficit in his first. Not even close to factual.

    And once O stopped the GOP Great Recession, the economy grew at just under 3% continually with an average better than most presidents.

    This article shows the deficit history and does a good job of explaining the rational for all of this:
    https://www.thebalance.com/us-debt-by-president-by-dollar-and-percent-3306296

    In the last sentence, you claim that O DOUBLED the national debt on his watch, while disregarding the fact that reagan and W not only MORE than doubled, but that both of their deficits continue to climb under them EACH YEAR, while under O, he inherited a NIGHTMARE (multiple wars and the great recession), and STILL managed to bring down the deficit by more than 75% (from 1.6T by W down to .3T).

    Though to O discredit, in his last year, he and the GOP joined together in running up massive spending. And yes, the dems and O were very much part of that same spending frenzy. It was not just the GOP.

    And as to anemic economic growth:
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/oct/31/donald-trump/trumps-claim-about-weak-economic-growth-under-obam/

    In general, economists have ranked O as positive, not negative.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-09-06/how-obama-s-economic-record-stacks-up