Agencies Outline Progress on Executive Branch Reorganization
In a hearing this week in the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs’ (HSGAC) Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management (RAFM), representatives from the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, (DOJ) Department of Agriculture, and Department of Homeland Security outlined the steps their respective agencies were taking to comply with President Trump’s March 13th “Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch” and the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) subsequent memorandum, “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce.”
Each agency indicated that it expected to meet OMB’s initial June 30th deadline, with final drafts of their plans being ready in September.
Department of Commerce CFO Ellen Herbst testified that each operating unit within the department, as well as each of the offices handling tasks such as IT and HR, was tasked with presenting burden-reduction ideas to comply with reorganization requirements. She joined the other witnesses in commending OMB’s assistance throughout the process, thus far.
Lee Lofthus, DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General (AG) for the Administration Justice Management Division, stated that the department had sought input from five sources – four internal and one external – noting feedback from the Assistant AG offices, Deputy AG offices, the Justice Management Division, DOJ employees writ-large, and ideas submitted by the public through a web portal.
Herbst said overall 110,000 public comments were received through the web portal by agencies, before being distributed to the agencies for which the comments were intended. Each agency representative echoed that the comments contained many duplicates and required efforts to de-duplicate, categorize, and analyze the data.
Each agency representative also noted that part of the reorganization process involved going through GAO and IG reports to find previous recommendations that had not yet been implemented.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) expressed concerns that agencies – notably the USDA, which faces a 21 percent budget cut – would be able to carry out responsibilities without workforce cuts, which is the USDA’s stated goal.
Witnesses also expressed a commitment to examining GAO duplication reports and looking at ways to remove mission overlap both within agencies and between agencies.
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