Issue Briefs

Following is a summary produced by the White House of its proposal to consolidate numerous business-related functions from various departments and agencies, a reorganization that would require congressional approval.

To create an economy that is built to last, spur the creation of good-paying jobs, and provide security to millions of middle-class Americans, President Obama believes the government must do its part to create the conditions for growth and give our businesses, workers, and communities the tools they need to succeed.

Critical to that effort is the ability to consolidate and streamline agencies to make government easier to navigate and more effective. For too long, agency boundaries and Congress’s jurisdictional lines have made it harder, rather than easier, for America’s people and businesses to interact with their government. Those boundaries have also led to unnecessary waste and duplication. President Obama is committed to breaking down the outdated, bureaucratic barriers and consolidating government agencies to maximize efficiency and effectiveness so that the government can best support American competitiveness and innovation.

We live and do business in the information age, but the organization of the Federal Government has not kept pace. We live in a 21st century economy, but we’ve still got a government organized for the 20th century.

The President believes it’s time to streamline the federal government to maximize effectiveness, cut billions of dollars in waste and duplication, and better serve the American people. He is calling on Congress to restore the President’s authority to reorganize and consolidate the federal government so that we do not have to wait any longer for a 21st century government that can help them compete and thrive in the global economy. Also, the President is putting forth what would be his first proposal if Congress restores this authority. His proposal would consolidate the major parts of the Federal government that help entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes grow, compete, and hire. By rolling six agencies into one new Department, it will save billions of dollars, enhance the government’s effectiveness, and create one agency easily accessible to American businesses and focused on their success.

Strengthening Accountability for a Government that Works The President announced today that he will send a bill to Congress restoring the President’s authority to submit plans to consolidate and reorganize executive branch departments and agencies for fast-track consideration by Congress so long as the plan would reduce the size of government or cut costs – “consolidation authority”.

• Beginning with President Herbert Hoover, Presidents had reorganization authority for almost the entire period from 1932 through 1984.

• Too often, past attempts to streamline government got caught up in beltway politics and power struggles that prevented meaningful consolidation. And more often than not, new agencies were added without taking any away.

• Unlike the authority granted in the past, the President’s proposal would initiate new accountability by mandating that any plan must reduce the number of government agencies or save taxpayer dollars.

• The proposal would ensure expedient review by Congress.

Already, the Obama Administration has aggressively taken on waste and duplication. President Obama has been focused on making government more accountable to the American people since day one and launched the Campaign to Cut Waste to root out misspent tax dollars across the federal government, identifying billions in savings thus far by getting rid of excess federal real estate, slashing spending on unnecessary travel and printing, halting the production of dollar coins that aren’t needed, and recovering record amounts of tax dollars from those attempting to defraud the government. And, in areas varying from surface transportation to job training, public health, and education, the Administration has proposed to consolidate scores of programs into more focused, effective, and streamlined initiatives. But we must go further. Consolidation authority is essential if we are to eliminate duplication and inefficiencies and finally bring our government’s structure into the 21st century.

Making it Easier for America’s Job Creators to Compete and Grow

Since day one, President Obama has been committed to supporting job growth – particularly among small businesses. Since taking office, he has signed into law 17 tax cuts for small businesses and increased access to the capital they need to expand and create the jobs we need now and for decades to come. Recognizing that 95 percent of the world’s consumers are outside our shores, the President committed his Administration to doubling exports from 2009 to 2014. Our exports are on track to meet that target, and, , in service of that goal, the President recently signed free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. However, there is a global race to create good jobs in one’s country, and the United States must do all it can to win that race.

As the President noted in his State of the Union address last year, there is more that we must do to help give American businesses all they need to succeed. The Federal Government is a maze of Federal agencies with overlapping services and missions, making it difficult for businesses – and especially small firms – to find the assistance they need to export, expand, and hire. He established the Government Reform for Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative to determine how we can update the Federal government to better support America’s competitiveness in a 21st century global economy. The Initiative reached out to hundreds of businesses, as well as past and present government officials, Federal employees, experts and stakeholders. The Initiative’s first recommendation and the first step President Obama would take with renewed reorganization authority would be to consolidate the six agencies primarily responsible for business competitiveness and exports into one new Department with the dedicated mission to help American businesses grow, hire, and thrive in the global economy. This would save taxpayers $3 billion over 10 years as we get rid of duplication and waste, and save businesses countless hours frustratingly trying to navigate the current maze of federal help.

The Problem: A Confusing Maze of Overlapping Agencies and Programs If you are an American business looking for information or help expanding operations and exporting your products and services, this is what you currently face –- followed by the President’s proposed solution: