The Trump administration is engaged in a "War on Waste" within the federal government. The Office of Management and Budget fired the first salvo on June 15, issuing a memorandum rescinding 59 reporting requirements for agencies immediately, with another couple hundred waiting on the chopping block.
In February, Linda Springer, a senior adviser to OMB and former director of the Office of Personnel Management under President George W. Bush, and a core group of four career civil servants began culling through some 253 policies affecting federal agencies, with an eye toward reducing the number of redundant and obsolete regulations and freeing federal employees to do the work of the country.
The 59 policies modified or rescinded Thursday all deal with reporting requirements, many of which are no longer relevant, Springer explained during a briefing with reporters.
For instance, Springer pointed to reporting requirements around Y2K and the Deep Horizon oil spill – important issues at the time but no longer relevant.
Others, such as the reporting process around agency-organized conferences – which came about in the wake of GSA's conference spending scandal – are now redundant to official policies that keep these issues in check.
"We're only eliminating the reporting requirements," OMB Director Mick Mulvaney clarified. It does not "mean we don't care anymore … I don't think anybody perceives this as license to start goofing off again. And if they do so, they do so at their own peril."
The specific rollbacks – and the process in general – was "driven by career staff," according to Mulvaney, who noted that, as a political appointee and former legislator, he wasn't in the right position to lead on this.
"Let's face it, that's the way it has to be," he said. "There's no way a political appointee like myself – and to a less extent Linda – there's no way that somebody coming in from the outside is going to know the level of duplication that exists. It's going to fall to those career staffers. And, face it, they're as frustrated by bad government as any political appointee is, from either party."
"They want this," Springer agreed, adding some of this process had already begun in the area of IT procurement and management.
"This is the first piece," Springer said, with the second phase beginning this summer. "The balance in phase two are, often times, ones that have a statutory basis," meaning the administration will have to work with Congress to modify or repeal those requirements.
The ultimate goal is to make it easier for federal employees to do their jobs.
"This is about having government get out of the way of government," Springer said, noting that, to her knowledge, this kind of housecleaning has never been done before.
The full list of modified and rescinded requirements, including guidance, can be found on OMB.gov.