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Moving Forward on Government Reform

President Obama Sets Restructuring Deadline

SOURCE: AP/Charles Dharapak

President Barack Obama answers a reporter's question during a press conference on the White House complex in Washington, Friday, March 11, 2011.

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President Barack Obama late last week issued an important memorandum setting a deadline for this year for proposals to reorganize federal government departments and agencies. The plan will be an important first step toward restructuring the federal government in a way that will promote the nation’s economic competitiveness.

Within 90 days, Jeffrey Zients, chief performance officer at the Office of Management and Budget, is to “create a plan for the restructuring and streamlining of the executive branch of federal government.” The move follows President Obama’s pledge in his January State of the Union address to launch this important initiative.

The Center for American Progress applauds this swift action by the president. Ensuring the federal government is Doing What Works is a key project at the Center. Indeed, in a December 2010 report, “A Focus on Competitiveness,” we offered a number of restructuring proposals for policymakers in the administration and Congress to consider.

The presidential memorandum confirms that the Obama administration views reforms to federal departments and agencies engaged in economic competitiveness as the first step in a more far-reaching restructuring of government agencies. OMB’s Zients will have a dizzying array of restructuring options to work through in a short period of time. The Center recently published an issue brief that sets out what we believe are the key restructuring options, from focusing mainly on export-oriented agencies to a more far-reaching set of reforms that extend even beyond the arena of competitiveness. It is available here.

Jitinder Kohli is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress working on its Doing What Works project involving government reform.

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