On March 14th, President Trump declared that there is “duplication and redundancy everywhere” and that there needs to be more “efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the executive branch”. One might think, “our outsider president is wonderful for recognizing how disorganized the executive branch is” or “what a revolutionary idea!”
Except, he’s not and it isn’t.
In fact, there seems to be a glitch because nearly the same thing was said by Nixon in 1971. And Jimmy Carter in 1978. And Bill Clinton in 1994. And Obama in 2012.
But, let’s backtrack and look at why exactly the executive branch seems so disorganized. One reason behind this supposed “redundancy” is that the federal government has expanded greatly in the past few decades, with new departments manifesting from current events and the influence of interests groups who demanded official attention for their needs. Moreover, getting rid of these departments is met with resistance from Congress because the reconstruction of already established agencies is “too large a challenge to the centrifugal forces within the national government”. Which is to say, it creates division within the federal government in the places that were actually creating unity.
So, what is Trump’s plan?
Reportedly, the new president is giving every executive agency 6 months to prepare a reorganization plan “if appropriate” and submit it the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Then, the OBM will have 6 months to review the proposals and create a master plan for Trump to review. However, the loophole in this is that not every agency will feel that reorganization is “appropriate”, and it is not guaranteed that these proposals will feature reorganization that suits the executive branch as a whole. Moreover, even if the process goes as planned, Trump will still have to convince Congress to bestow him the authority to administer unilateral reorganization of the executive branch, something that was never granted fully to any president before.
So, will Trump finally whip the executive branch into shape? Probably not. But saying a few words about it will earn him praise from those that do not understand the fundamental workings of the executive branch itself.