“Sometimes you walk into an agency and realize that agency’s mission is no longer relevant,” Spicer said, “or is duplicative in three other agencies.” The review will make government “more efficient, effective and accountable to the American people.”
Trump is not the first president to seek an avenue to streamline government operations; in 2012, President Obama sent legislative language to Congress requesting a restoration of authority to consolidate agencies enjoyed by presidents from the 1930s to the 1980s. The Reforming and Consolidating Government Act would have permitted the creation, abolition, consolidation, transfer or renaming of an executive agency or department if the proposed reorganization reduced the overall number of agencies or achieved cost savings. The provision would have sunset after two years, and would have allowed Congress to approve of changes with a fast-tracked, up-or-down vote.
In 2011, Obama signed an executive order titled Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government as part of his “campaign to cut waste.” The order created a new accountability board to “help federal agencies improve their performance and reduce waste,” and required Vice President Biden to meet regularly with Cabinet members to identify wasteful spending and make government work better.
In 2005, the George W. Bush administration proposed the Government Reorganization and Program Performance Improvement Act, which would have created commissions to identify areas of overlap and programs to be restructured or terminated. President Clinton’s famed “reinventing government” campaign promised a “national performance review” to eliminate waste through reorganization and other cost-saving efforts. President Reagan’s Grace Commission proposed $424 billion in cuts to what it identified as inefficiencies in government.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised a war on waste he would complete within his first 100 days in office.
“We are going to ask every department head in government to provide a list of wasteful spending projects that we can eliminate in my first 100 days,” Trump said in July. “The politicians have talked about it; I’m going to do it.”