Bureaucratic & Legal Reform in the United States

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Ghost, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    There were three main factors in the U.S. 2010 midterm elections: jobs, healthcare, and the size of government.

    Republicans rode in on a wave of public frustration with the size of government, as well as complaints about the length and complexity of our laws.

    I think everyone, Democrats and Republicans and Independents, liberals and conservatives and moderates, would like to see a comprehensive reform and streamlining of Government itself. I've long talked about consolidating and streamlining the federal bureaucracy, and simplifying our existing laws.


    So let's talk specifics. What should be changed?







    Here's my proposal:



    First, streamline the "independent agencies" under the Cabinet. Eliminate those that have been ineffective at meeting their stated goals, eliminate those that have met their goals and have become unnecessary and outdated, and eliminate those that do not have "good" goals.

    (Can't we put the mission to the United Nations underneath the Department of State? Can't we put the Economic Council and the Office of Management & Budget both underneath the Department of Treasury? Can't we put the Office of the Trade Representative underneath the Department of Commerce, or State? Put the PeaceCorps under State, and AmeriCorps under HHS? Put National Intelligence under Defense or Homeland Security. Put auditing agencies under Justice? Etc.)



    Second, examine all the sub-departments of the Cabinet. Eliminate, or combine, anything redundant. Reorganize sub-departments under their proper department.

    (Should the Department of Treasury really be responsible for enforcing alcohol and tobacco policy? Do we still need a Bureau in the Department of Labor to prepare women for the workforce? Does the Department of Health and Human Services really need a "Healthy Marriage" initiative, Office of Minority Health, and is it really the best department for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or for enforcing Civil Rights? Should the Department of Commerce really be responsible for monitoring the weather? Should Agriculture be responsible for Food Stamps, or it is more logical for that to be under Health and Human Services? Finding out what actually works in HUD, what actually makes it cabinet-level? Etc.)



    Third, consolidate the Departments into a more logical organization of the federal bureaucracy.

    (Combine the departments of Interior, Energy, Transportation, Housing & Urban Development, along with the EPA and several other existing independent agencies on industrial standards and encouraging national industries underneath a new "Department of Infrastructure and Manufacturing." Put the FAFSA and college financial aid part of the Department of Education underneath the Department of Treasury; put the NCLB part of the Department of Education underneath Department of Commerce, also give Commerce the power to standardize elections, Commerce already conducts the Census, so then just rename Commerce the "Department of Standards and Records"; and I don't think the Department of Education does anything else so then that could be abolished. Rename the Department of Agriculture, combined with parts of the old Department of Interior, into the "Department of Natural Resources." Divide the parts of the Department of Veterans Affairs into the appropriate departments, like Health and Human Services for the health benefits, and Treasury for the college financial aid benefits. Most of the Department of Labor can be divided too: their statistics can go under the new Department of Standards, Mining Safety can go under the new Department of Natural Resources, OSHA and WHD can also go under Standards or HHS, and I think that's basically all of Labor. Maybe rename HHS the "Department of Human Resources," and give them some of the old duties of HUD on housing standards. Can put independent agencies that serve an educational purpose under Standards and Records, if they shouldn't be privatized, and put monuments under the same or Infrastructure, and put parks under Infrastruc
  2. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I like your ideas for cabinet level reform, but I think such reform should take more baby steps. For instance, I'd share the call to dramatically scale back the Dept of Education, especially since each state has their own duplicate agencies. The federal level agency could act as an idea clearinghouse and grant disbursement center for the states.

    We would still need a civilian intelligence agency, so it wouldn't work under defense. I don't even think intelligence should be put under Homeland Security, which is more of a law enforcement/physical security focused organization. Intelligence almost has to stay an anomaly under any such reform.

    I wonder how much resources would actually be saved under such reform? If the VA was put under Health and Human Services, for example, how much would HHS's budget be increased in response? The costs that would be eliminated would be the strictly redundant ones, like reception staff and the like, but the required costs wouldn't really change. It's interesting to think about.

  3. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    So, I don't give the federal bureaucracy much thought on a day to day basis. Is redundancy or outdated agencies really that much of a problem? I would imagine that if you're running an organization, whether it's a business or government agency, that you'd just cut resources to a division that isn't very important....especially so when you're tight on money as the federal government is now. So wouldn't this streamlining just be a formality?
  4. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Mr44,

    Thanks! See, we do have some things in common. ;)

    I agree that such a drastic overhaul would have to be taken in a lot of baby steps. That's part of the reason why I think we should look at which supdepartments and independent agencies should just be eliminated or combined first, then which independent agencies would fit under which cabinet departments, and what subdepartments would be better placed under a different cabinet department. That would get the ball rolling, we'd have had some practice to then smoothly implement the reorganization and renaming of the cabinet departments themselves. And I don't expect it all to be accomplished in a year or even in a few years, there would have to be some timetable (5 years?) for a smooth transition. The most important cabinet departments (State. Defense, and Homeland Security) would rarely be touched, while Treasury and Justice would mostly just be placing existing independent agencies as new subdepartments under their umbrella (along with reorganization for maximum efficiency). The other, "new" five cabinet departments in my proposal would just be a reorganization of subdepartments and indepdendent agencies first, nothing new created.

    As for just scaling back the Department of Education, there really isn't anything to scale back, it already has only a total of 5,000 employees. In my brief research of it, there seems to be two main duties: financial aid for college (including FAFSA), education grants to states, and No Child Left Behind. Am I missing anything?

    The responsibilities for the financial aid and grants could be logically transferred to Department of Treasury. NCLB is basically a standardized test, so that would easily fit into the new Department of Standards and Records (along with its Census duties from Department of Commerce, as well as other agencies that collect information and enforce standards, like NARA and the FEC). And if there really isn't anything left that the Department of Education actually already does, then it becomes unnecessary.

    Why don't you think civilian intelligence would work under Homeland Security? The department may be more about law enforcement, physical security, emergency managment, and disaster relief right now... but its mission could be expanded to include the intelligence dimension of national security.

    I'm no expert, but I would think the savings would amount to the billions or tens of billions. But even more than that, the federal bureucracy would become a lot more transparent and comprehensive to the average citizen, and it would be much easier to keep track of all government programs so waste and ineffeciencies would be less likely to avoid detection. It would also solidify "this is what government does," so it would be much less likely to expand, and more focus would be on improving existing responsibilities. (I may be closer to modern liberalism than classical liberalism, but I think government should have clearly defined limits. I just think those limits include things like healthcare standards, environmental standards, labor standards, infrastructure, looking after our crucial natural resources, etc.)

    What do you think about my Legal Reform ideas? Reorganizing the United States Code to reflect the new Cabinet, and then making it so all existing law must be introduced and passed as amendments to the Code?



    Alpha-Red,

    The bureaucracy is the actual enforcement and execution of the government. Presidents and Congresses may set policy, with the Supreme Court sometimes getting involved when policies are in conflict, but it is the bureaucrats that turn that abstract policy into actual reality. They are really the government. The power of politicians comes from telling the bureaucrats what to do, and the bureucrats listen to them because the politicians are who hire and pay them. And since the 2010 midterm elections had "size of government" as one of the big three issues, if you want to reform government and reduce its size you really have to look at the bureucracy and all its
  5. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    President Obama's bipartisan commission to reduce the debt and deficit has release a rough draft of their proposals, and it contrains a lot of possible reforms for our Bureaucracy and Legal system, especially Entitlements and Taxes.



    In a surprise move Wednesday, the co-chairmen of President Obama's fiscal commission released their preliminary proposals to curb growth in U.S. debt.

    The report from Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson recommends spending cuts beginning in 2012, as well as tax reform and other ways to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Three quarters of those savings would be achieved through spending cuts and the rest through higher taxes.



    The 18-member commission, which will make formal recommendations to Obama on Dec. 1, has been closely watched by budget experts since its first meeting in April.

    The panel's proposals are not likely to be adopted by Congress wholesale, but they are expected to influence the debate in coming months as Congress tackles the nation's unsustainable long-term debt.

    In their report, Bowles and Simpson offer ideas for consideration by the commission:

    Set targets for revenue and spending:
    The report recommends that taxes be capped at 21% of gross domestic product. It would also limit federal spending initially to 22% of the economy and eventually to 21%.

    Rein in spending:
    The report proposes $200 billion in domestic and defense spending cuts in 2015.

    Reform tax code:
    The report would lower income tax rates and simplify the tax code. It would abolish the Alternative Minimum Tax -- the so-called wealth tax -- and reduce tax breaks.

    Change Social Security:
    The report aims to make Social Security solvent over 75 years through a number of measures, including a less generous annual cost-of-living adjustment for benefits, and a very slow rise in the retirement age (from 67 to 68 by 2050; rising to 69 by 2075).


    CNN article

    I don't agree with many elements of it, but if this was easy it would have been done already, so I guess I support it.

    What do you think?
  6. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    I think it's a good start.
  7. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Here's the main cabinet agencies that should remain:

    State
    Justice
    Veteran's Affairs
    Defense
    Interior
    Treasury
    Homeland Security
    Welfare(new creation)

    I would send to the junkpile:

    Agriculture
    Commerce
    Labor
    Health and Human Services
    Housing and Urban Development
    Transportation
    Energy
    Education
    Homeland Security

    I would change Education back to a commission(as it was a generation ago). And I would take the Atomic Energy component out of Energy and change it back to the Atomic Energy Commission. All the rest should be scrapped.

    As for Homeland Security: I would put a triumvirate panel of Inspector Generals to provide oversight.

    Interior would absorb The Forest Service from Agriculture. The BLM would be dissolved and all remaining non-scenic designated or protected wilderness areas would be auctioned off or transferred to states.

    Then I would create a new agency: Welfare. This would contain basically all of the progressive programmes of the last century into one agency. So you would have Medicare. Then you would have other assistance programs for the poorest of the poor. This agency would contain all the social safety net administrations.

    I would also raise the retirement age to 70 and means test social security.

    I would also bring home most of the remaining armed forces from Europe and around the world and close numerous bases.
  8. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    shanerjedu,

    You said you would both keep and scrap Homeland Security? :confused: :p


    Do you think there should be independent agencies? Or do you think the bureaucracy should be simpler, more transparent, more accountability, with everything reorganized under the Cabinet?


    Why would you keep Veterans' Affairs as its own Cabinet Department? It's basically a healthcare system, which would more logically be included under HHS. I think this is an example of the politicians saying "you can't do that! look, this person is AGAINST VETERANS?!?!?!?", which just ignores what you're really putting forward. Like how some Democratic congressmen are raging mad over the debt panel's recommendations, saying it will cut Social Security, when really some changes look to be necessary to save it. Do you really think we need the VA as its own separate cabinet department?

    By get rid of the Department of Agriculture, what do you mean? Do you mean take away its Cabinet status, or repeal it completely? Because if you looked at its subdepartments, there is good stuff there. Maybe some of its programs should be scaled back, but are there any in particular you would just eliminate?

    Same with Commerce. Do you want to get rid of the Census? Do you think we should not analyze the economy? Do you think we should not promote exports? Do you think we should stop looking for WMD's? Do you think our industrial base shouldn't be protected from possible terrorism or attack? Do you think we should get rid of patents and trademarks? Do you think we shouldn't have standards and measures? Because the Commerce Department does all of that, and more. I think it should be reformed, I think some programs would be a more logical fit under other departments, I think a few should be eliminated, but I don't think we can outright eliminate it.

    Same with Labor, HHS, HUD, Education, Energy, Transportation. They all have very important programs. Some should be eliminated, combined, transferred under another department, or scaled back. BUT we should definitely not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
    (I think HHS, Energy, and Transportation are especially important.)

    I'm not sure what charging three people to inspect and oversee Homeland Security would do? What would they be inspecting/overseeing? Don't we already have auditing that could do the job, or a branch of the Justice Department?

    As for dissolving the BLM, why don't you want to protect wildness areas? That costs very little money and personnel. And don't you think some parts of this country should be preserved, so some parts of thia breathtaking country that our ancestors came to aren't completely confined to the history books?


    As for the Department of Welfare, what exactly would you put under this?

    I disagree with the name, for good or bad "welfare" now has a very negative connotation.

    Why would you put all "progressive" programs under one department? What is a progressive program to you? If every non-defense program created since 1900 is a progressive program, then that's a lot of diverse programs which probably don't all belong under the same department. And aren't Medicare and Social Security basically self-administated? I've the Social Security Administration is one of the most efficient, most effectively run programs in the entire government, so I'm not sure why its administration should be combined with so many others.




    I know I have a lot of questions about your proposal, but thanks for posting it! I hope more people start to come in here and post their ideas, and maybe we can all come to some kind of consensus and come up with some really brilliant ideas in the process. I look forward to your response! :)



  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Ghost, I think you have a large misunderstanding about the VA. You're talking about the VA Hospital system, which is part of it, but a specific part.

    But there's also the VA educational department, which offers counseling to veteran students and processes the VA educational benefits. There's the VA job training/apprenticeship program, which handles those going into a trade. There's the VA home loan guarantee program, and while it only handles a small percentage of home loans itself, it oversees the requirements. The VA also handles disability/pension payments and benefits.

    The VA itself has a rather large focus, the umbrella being "veterans," of which only a small part would fall under health and human services.
  10. darth-calvin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2002
    star 1
    I don't think reorganizing is really going to save much because it doesn't address the real problems. It will also probably cost a whole lot of money to implement so the rewards might be far down the road. IMO, government waste lies primarily in 2 areas: Massive amounts of red-tape (that requires staff hours to complete) and dead-beat employees (not to say that all govt employees are this way, but in my experience the number is fairly significant).

    Of course, the red-tape is all about accountability so that's a pretty hard sell to change (though it can and should be done). It has actually gotten more in depth. As far as accountability for employees, a merit-based reward system could help solve much of that, but good luck getting it in place. On the bright side, where I live, this has been happening because of funding cuts that have forced staff reduction through atrition.

    I asked this in another thread, but it warrants repeating here: what programs are not performing or aren't useful? And, have you really researched them to know this is the case?

    Edit: Typo
  11. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    shanerjedi, I apologize for spelling your name wrong, I really wish we had spell-check on here. :p

    In my original post I mentioned the education benefits too, under step 3:

    Divide the parts of the Department of Veterans Affairs into the appropriate departments, like Health and Human Services for the health benefits, and Treasury for the college financial aid benefits.



    If we?re just reorganizing the VA into the other existing 14 departments, I'd say put the health benefits as well as disability and pensions under HHS, the home loan benefits under HUD, the student financial aid under Education, and the job training/counseling under Education or Labor.

    Under my reorganized version of the Cabinet, I'd put the health/disability/pension/job-training under Human Resources, and the college/home financial aid under Treasury.

    I don't believe any of those programs should be cut, the government definitely has a duty to take care of our Veterans, but we don't need it to be a whole Cabinet Department. The goal of taking care of our veterans should be shared across all departments, not all concentrated into one. The VA as a cabinet department is a relatively recent creation, anyways, we got along fine without it at cabinet-level status for centuries.


    I agree that reorganization, and eliminating or downscaling certain subdepartments and agencies, isn't going to solve the problem entirely. We'll have to address the "sacred cows" of the defense budget, nondiscretionary spending, and the tax code to do that, but that will very controversial, so it is best to address the smaller and less controversial programs first. Bureaucratic & Legal reform will definitely help. And I believe that a more simple, accountable, and transparent organization of the federal bureaucracy is a valuable goal in itself.

    I do agree that the "red tape" of bureaucracy should be evaluated and reformed, that's in the Legal Reform part of my proposal (reforming and simplifying the Code of Federal Regulations). Not all of it is bad, most of it is probably good, but we need to look at specifics and find ways to make government processes work faster and more efficiently. Are th
  12. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I knew you weren't thinking in terms of cutting benefits, but I think you're moving away from your goals of reducing costs and promoting efficiency in this area.

    I suppose I just don't see the logic in this case of taking the job that a unified department does and spreading the workload across 3-4 different departments, especially since such workload will most likely be duplicated under your proposal. Currently, the VA has assigned councilors who can view which benefits an individual has received, etc... Yet, instead of a single unified department, a veteran would have to go to one office for health, a different office for education, a different office for something else, and so on...Also, the revised departments would have to be trained in the differences between civilian requirements and veteran requirements. In essence, you're promoting the idea of taking the job that one person does now and making 4 people do the same thing. Not to mention the fact that the VA also has a strong advocacy component, which would be diluted.

    With anything, there's certainly areas that could be made to operate more efficiently, VA hospitals being one of them. But at some point, you reach a point of diminishing returns with such reform, and in some cases, it does make sense to specialize.

  13. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Can I call you Darth Ghostu?

    Wow that is..that is a great bunch of questions you got there for me to ponder.

    Let me get back to you in a bit. :)
  14. darth-calvin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2002
    star 1
    First, I think I might be misunderstanding what you?re considering federal employees. When you mention welfare, that money comes from the Feds, then goes down to the state, then out to the individual counties. There are employees at every level, but the front line people are actually county employees. I?ve grouped them as a general ?govt?. I just want to make sure we?re talking about the same thing.

    Everyone in the government has assigned duties, and all of them think their duties are a fair amount of work for their wages. What it comes down to is either you tell them that they aren?t doing enough, or you eliminate some of the work. Calling it Reorganization seems like a red-herring for either of these goals. (I?m not trying to come down on you, I?ve just been around long enough to see the ?reorganization? of many agencies. They often fail or are a waste of time because the real issue isn?t being addressed.)

    Red Tape is where I see the real savings and the best way to eliminate staff cost. This is where I think reorganizing could help the most. For example, in Human Services, five different govt funded entities could be collecting the same info on 1 person. A smaller system could eliminate this, but there some huge logistic problems. In Human Services, much of the government assistance is farmed out to non-governmental service providers like community action agencies.

    The Governmental Accounting Office serves as the auditor for most govt programs, when called to do so. They are pretty non-partisan and the lead is appointed by the president and approved by the senate. I see this as this as the most fair option ? appointed businesses would be more open to partisan politics as many companies would jockey for such lucrative government contracts through political donations and such.
  15. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Darth Ghost, your questions will be in italics, my answer, bold.

    Do you think there should be independent agencies? Or do you think the bureaucracy should be simpler, more transparent, more accountability, with everything reorganized under the Cabinet?


    I would be in favor of reorganizing under the cabinet. I'm also in favor of laws and regs with sunset dates.


    Why would you keep Veterans' Affairs as its own Cabinet Department? It's basically a healthcare system, which would more logically be included under HHS. I think this is an example of the politicians saying "you can't do that! look, this person is AGAINST VETERANS?!?!?!?", which just ignores what you're really putting forward. Like how some Democratic congressmen are raging mad over the debt panel's recommendations, saying it will cut Social Security, when really some changes look to be necessary to save it. Do you really think we need the VA as its own separate cabinet department?

    Because Veteran's have always had a special place in this society, especially a system of volunteers. They deserve their own agency specializing in their affairs and assistance. That doesn't mean I'm against reducing its budget though or transferring some programs to other departments though.

    By get rid of the Department of Agriculture, what do you mean? Do you mean take away its Cabinet status, or repeal it completely? Because if you looked at its subdepartments, there is good stuff there. Maybe some of its programs should be scaled back, but are there any in particular you would just eliminate?

    I'm not against the food inspection. But I would definitely turn the farming assistance subsidy programs into a single crop insurance program with a 70% fed pay 30% farmer pay single subsidy. Then I would end all the other farm subsidies over a period of years.


    Same with Commerce. Do you want to get rid of the Census? Do you think we should not analyze the economy? Do you think we should not promote exports? Do you think we should stop looking for WMD's? Do you think our industrial base shouldn't be protected from possible terrorism or attack? Do you think we should get rid of patents and trademarks? Do you think we shouldn't have standards and measures? Because the Commerce Department does all of that, and more. I think it should be reformed, I think some programs would be a more logical fit under other departments, I think a few should be eliminated, but I don't think we can outright eliminate it.

    No I would keep the Census. And all the other economic statistical services can be handled by private companies subcontracted through the U.S. Trade Rep office. That is one thing I would also keep but I would move it to State.

    Same with Labor, HHS, HUD, Education, Energy, Transportation. They all have very important programs. Some should be eliminated, combined, transferred under another department, or scaled back. BUT we should definitely not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
    (I think HHS, Energy, and Transportation are especially important.)


    I already addressed Dept of Education. And I also addressed how to dissolve Energy and keep the Atomic Energy component intact.

    I would keep the Highway safety administration from transportation but move it to Interior. HHS would be absorbed into Department of Welfare.


    I'm not sure what charging three people to inspect and oversee Homeland Security would do? What would they be inspecting/overseeing? Don't we already have auditing that could do the job, or a branch of the Justice Department?

    Inspector General's are specifically assigned to each agency. Homeland would have 3 because it's so huge and to make it more difficult for favoritism.


    As for dissolving the BLM, why don't you want to protect wildness areas? That costs very little money and personnel. And don't you think some parts of this country should be preserved, so some parts of thia breathtaking country that our ancestors came to aren't completely confined to the history books?[/
  16. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I'll respond to everyone shortly, it's been a busy week for me, but here's an interesting article that relates to this thread:

    United States considering combining components of the Department of State with the Department of Defense?


    U.S. considering combining military, international affairs budgets


    The Obama administration is considering creating a unified national security budget that would combine elements of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development with the Pentagon, according to a draft copy of a long-awaited foreign policy strategy review shared with Congress this week.

    Citing the joint planning required between U.S. military and civilian agencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proposal is one of several that would put the U.S. diplomatic corps and its lead global humanitarian agency on a stronger national security footing, according to a draft of the State Department?s first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, or QDDR.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered the review last year to be modeled after the Pentagon?s four-year review, intended as a strategic guide for appropriators. It is part of an ongoing White House-led effort to link development and national security.

    ?To advance American interests and values and to lead other nations in solving shared problems in the 21st century, we must rely on our diplomats and development experts as the first face of American power,? Clinton said in the introduction of a ?consultation draft? version leaked to The Washington Post this week. ?We must lead through civilian power.?

    Ultimately, USAID and the State Department should ?embrace conflict prevention and response as a core mission,? the document says. It calls for the U.S. to build a ?deployable civilian surge capability? and create an ?Overseas Contingency Operations? spending account for State and USAID?s budgets, referring to the Pentagon account known under President George W. Bush as the ?Global War on Terror.?

    The idea of combining budgets has been floated for decades in foreign policy circles as an effort to give foreign aid and development spending, historically unpopular in Congress, all the political clout and cover fire of defense spending.

    But in nearly a decade at war, in the absence of an army of civilian aid workers, U.S. combat troops increasingly performed development and humanitarian work, such as building schools and delivering food. Those tasks are considered vital to the counterinsurgency goal of winning local allegiances.

    Seeking relief for troops, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made more than a dozen public appearances with Clinton in two years, calling on Congress to fully fund the civilian budget for transitioning from military to civilian control in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Instead, congressional committees have cut those budgets in spending bills still awaiting passage this year.




    I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I'm leaning against it. While I see some benefits to it, I don't think it would be wise to combine these titans of American power. Should the diplomats and soldiers really be working for the same boss, under the same organization? Yes, it may aid the economic development of and military victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, a joint mission of both State and Defense, but it just doesn't sit right with me. It may also blur the line between American military and American civilians.
  17. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    President Obama is now pushing for this in his State of the Union. :D I'll post the relevant excerpt later.

    (and I forgot above responding to the people above, I'll try and do that soon too)


    EDIT:


    Legal Reform (of the Code of Federal Regulations)

    To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them.



    Bureaucratic Reform


    Let me take this one step further. We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.

    We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV. There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there's my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked.

    Now, we have made great strides over the last two years in using technology and getting rid of waste.

    Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse. We're selling acres of federal office space that hasn't been used in years, and we will cut through red tape to get rid of more. But we need to think bigger. In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote ? and we will push to get it passed.

  18. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Forgot about responding to this, sorry!


    Not sure what happened to Obama's plan for government reorganization, I thought it would be proposed as part of his budget, or the current Debt Ceiling talks.


    Here's an article I also meant to post a while ago, on how a watchdog says the US bureaucracy is costing us billions (I think someone asked earlier if its inefficiencies were really that big of a deal) and that there are a lot of redundancies:
    http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/01/news/economy/gao_report_government_duplication/index.htm?hpt=T2

    The U.S. government could save tens of billions of dollars a year by streamlining a bloated federal bureaucracy, according to a report Tuesday from the Government Accountability Office.

    In its first annual report on the subject, the GAO reviewed a wide range of federal programs, agencies, offices and initiatives to identify where the government is duplicating its goals or activities.

    The report, requested by Congress last year, lists 34 areas where programs have overlapping objectives or provide similar services. It outlines 47 other areas where Congress could take steps to improve the efficiency of federal programs and agencies, according to the 345-page report.

    The GAO did not say exactly how much the inefficiencies cost taxpayers each year, but the report states that "savings and revenues could result in tens of billions of dollars in annual savings, depending on the extent of actions taken."

    Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who requested the report, estimates that the duplicative programs cost the government at least $100 billion annually.

    "We are spending trillions of dollars every year and nobody knows what we are doing," Coburn said in a statement. "The executive branch doesn't know. The congressional branch doesn't know. Nobody knows."

    ...

    Among the duplications listed in the report, the GAO found 80 programs that provide services for "transportation-disadvantaged persons."

    The GAO also identified 82 programs aimed at improving teacher quality spread across ten different federal agencies. "Proliferation of programs complicates federal efforts to invest dollars effectively," the report states flatly.

    In addition, the report recommends better coordination among programs designed to help the homeless, provide job training and increase literacy.

    The effectiveness of the government's many economic development efforts, including over 100 programs to improve surface transportation, were also questioned by the GAO.

    The Obama administration has made investing in infrastructure a centerpiece of its economic stimulus plans. But programs involved in "surface transportation" lack clear goals and are not accountable for results, the GAO said.

    The five agencies within the Department of Transportation administer over 100 separate programs for highways, transit, rail and safety functions. Those programs cost more than $58 billion annually, according to GAO.

    To increase accountability and improve efficiency, the GAO says "a fundamental re-examination and reform of the nation's surface transportation policies is needed."

    The report said addressing duplicative efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Treasury Department to boost domestic ethanol production could save up to $5.7 billion annually.

    The nation's "fragmented" food safety system is ineffective and should be consolidated, according to the GAO

    In the defense arena, the GAO said up to $460 million could be saved if the Department of Defense enacts a broader restructuring of the military health care system.

    The GAO said periodic reviews of the nation's tax code could close loopholes that cost the Treasury billions of dollars a year.

    Among the more structural changes in the report, reducing some farm program payments could yield savings to up to $5 billion annually.

    Improving management of federal oil and gas resources could result in savings of about $1.75 billion over 10 years, the report said. Selling property owned by agencies such as th
  19. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    I'd say get rid of Homeland Security. Other departments (Justice, Defense, State) can do the same thing.
  20. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    I would be against combining Defense with State. They have two different missions. Defense should be to defend our national interests. Stop.

    State should be to give ourselves a diplomatic presence around the world. Stop.

    But I would scrap Homeland Security and return the agencies to their prior post 9-11 overreaction places.

  21. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    If war is politics by other means (which it largely is for Western countries) then a certain level of integration between State and Defense actually makes quite abit of sense. The level of sync between Sec. Clinton and former Sec. Gates illustrates this if you ask me.

    Also, Iraq saw alot of State Department-DoD cooperation because of the manpower-intensive nature of nation building in Iraq.
  22. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    It makes sense to coordinate and cooperate on certain issues. But, they have different missions.
    Then again, about a dozen different agencies run jobs programs in this government so why don't we just add war to department of state and diplomacy to defense?

    Redundancy and duplication loves our system.
  23. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Defense and State overlap in many areas, but I agree they should be kept separate, and should just closely cooperate on the issues.

    I don't think the Department of Homeland Security is inherently wrong, it is good to have all those civilian agencies like the FBI and FEMA all in one place, but it does need to be reorganized and become more efficient. We should have everything streamlined under the cabinet system, not a return to more independent agencies.
  24. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Here's another problem: special interests actually working for the government. One of the dilemmas that happen when someone who specializes in an area of expertise also happens to be a private beneficiary(or at least possible beneficiary)

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44177179/ns/technology_and_science-security/

    A head of a defense department agency might have steered contracts towards a private company she is the co-founder of.
  25. MasterDillon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2010
    star 2