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Obama again seeking strengthened reorganization authority

Jul. 9, 2013 - 04:10PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
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Sylvia Burwell, head of the White House budget office, will lead efforts to develop an aggressive second-term management agenda, President Obama said Monday. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

President Obama is again calling on Congress to give him “fast-track” authority to restructure and consolidate government agencies.

“Almost every president from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan had this authority to redesign . . . the executive branch to deliver services better,” Obama said Monday following a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Obama also said he has asked White House budget director Sylvia Burwell to lead efforts to develop an aggressive second-term management agenda “that delivers a smarter, more innovative and more accountable government for its citizens.”

Already in the pipeline, for example, is a project to allow people to track the status of their federal benefit applications in real time, he said, while the administration is striving to simplify contract bid language so more small businesses can compete for government work.

In renewing his request for fast-track reorganization authority, Obama said the White House is doing what it can administratively to improve government operations, but still needs lawmakers’ help in rewriting legislation that forces agencies to engage in bureaucratic “hoop-jumping.”

Under the fast-track framework, lawmakers could vote a particular restructuring plan up or down, but would not have the chance to offer amendments. At the White House’s request, then-Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., last year introduced a bill to provide that authority, but the legislation never made it out of committee.

Lieberman has since retired; a spokesman for Burwell’s office did not immediately reply Tuesday to a query about the status of any efforts to reintroduce the measure. The White House had initially sought fast-track authority as a means for pursuing consolidation of a half-dozen agencies dealing with business and trade functions. Although that plan remains in Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget request, administration officials have so far not signaled that it is a priority.

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