Trump Administration Seeking To Reorganize Government Agencies Without Congressional Approval

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A July report from Government Executive analyzing 32 government reorganization proposals unveiled in June was made public by the Federation of American Scientists this week. In an analysis completed by the Congressional Research Service, it was estimated that the Trump administration could act unilaterally on 10-12 of the potential changes, according to Government Executive.

The Trump administration has suggested that it can move forward with many of the proposals on its own without Congressional approval, but has yet to identify which agencies will be unilaterally reorganized as it continues to review which items will require Congressional approval and which ones will not.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the Trump administration can make the following changes without legislative action:

  • Reorganize the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department humanitarian assistance agencies into one. Humanitarian assistance is currently provided by three different government offices within the two agencies, resulting in communication gaps and duplication. This would be in addition to another proposed massive reorganization of all USAID offices and bureaus.
  • Consolidate the U.S. government’s existing development finance tools into a single department called the Development Finance Institution. This would combine offices like OPIC and DCA into a single entity. This effort required legislation, but has already been passed into law as it was tucked into the FAA reorganization.

  • Consolidate 11 veterans’ cemeteries currently administered by the Department of the Army into the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Consolidate of the Department of Energy’s Applied Energy Offices. The Office of Energy Resources and Economic Strategy, and the Office of Energy Innovation can be established administratively, while the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response has already been established.
  • Conversion of one or more of the nine NASA centers into federally funded research and development centers.
  • Consolidate the administration of all graduate research fellowships into the National Science Foundation.
  • Consolidate the protective details of certain executive branch agencies into the responsibility of the U.S. Marshals Service.
  • Require all federal agencies to conduct business processes and record keeping activities into a fully electronic format. The National Archives and Records Administration has already announced that it will stop accepting paper records after 2022.
  • Require select government agencies to establish “capability” focused on improving the customer service experience.
  • Redesign the Department of Education’s financial aid processing and servicing.
  • Direct related agencies to recruit talent and develop a common standard to train potential cyber security workers to correct the current federal workforce shortage in the field.
  • Transfer of the entire National Background Investigation Bureau from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense.
  • Create and strengthen the evaluation process within federal agencies.

Other reorganization plans, such as merging the Education and Labor Department, merging food safety programs, and privatizing the US Postal Service would require Congressional legislation.