NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Case for an Executive Reorganization

January 18, 2012

The executive branch is a sprawling apparatus that is likely to proceed on autopilot unless there is a drastic shakeup.  Reorganization could make it more responsive to democratic priorities and more effective at achieving the taxpayers' objectives.  Simultaneously, combining like bodies and agencies that deal with the same subject matter would reduce overlap and increase effective communication, says Arnold Kling, a member of the Financial Markets Working Group at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.

As it stands now, the executive branch is far too decentralized and multilayered to be efficient.  It currently consists of 15 cabinet agencies, 69 independent agencies and government corporations, 69 boards, commissions and committees, and 4 quasi-official agencies.

This amounts to 157 separate bodies.  All of these organizations can be reorganized into eight basic purposes of the federal government:

  • Defense Department: Much as it is now, with the addition of the CIA and NSA.
  • State Department: As it is now.
  • Financial Operations Department: This department would be responsible for government financial transactions as well as monetary policy.
  • Infrastructure Department: Includes transportation, the electric grid, telecommunications (the FCC), the payments system (check-clearing, wire transfers, the ATM network, and the like), air and water quality, and emergency management (FEMA).
  • Economic Opportunity Department: Coordinates policies on taxes, transfer payments and voucher programs in order to maximize their effectiveness in helping people in need, and would include current departments of education, housing, veterans' affairs and Native American affairs.
  • Science and Statistics Department: Support research in basic science, medicine and energy, and publish important data on demographics and economics, incorporating the current energy department and any future space administration.
  • Consumer Safety Department: Responsible for safety of food, drugs and consumer products.
  • Homeland Security Department: As it is now, but subject to strict auditing.

A reorganization of the executive branch in this way would encourage department heads to eliminate redundant functions and demarcate clear responsibilities.

Source: Arnold Kling, "The Case for an Executive Re-Organization," The American, January 11, 2012.

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