June 19, 2017

Public offers Trump 106,000 ideas to cut waste, and he’s listening

The public has enthusiastically responded to President Trump's call for help in fixing the government, pouring in 106,000 ideas to cut waste and reorganize the biggest federal bureaucracy in history.

Top Trump aides said the president is looking at those suggestions and asking his Cabinet to do the same as they near a June 30 deadline to propose structural changes to their departments.

"If 10 percent of those are any good, that's really good," Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney, a former House member, is leading the president's reorganization effort and said that while other presidents have been interested in cutting waste, regulations and redundancy, Trump means it.

"It's a priority for the president," he said.

The budget boss said that he is starting with a "blank sheet of paper" as he begins to redraw the federal government's organizational chart. To demonstrate how big the changes could be, he noted that NASA rents a building in Texas from the Agriculture Department, essentially making USDA a landlord for the space agency.

"NASA may end up in the Ag department," he joked, calling it "an extreme, an absurd example," but an indication that the slate is clean in the project, which has a goal of cutting government expenses by $140 billion over 10 years.

Besides asking for the public's help, the Trump-Mulvaney team is reaching out to corporate restructuring pros to get some ideas.

"I asked them, if you were doing this, how would you start," Mulvaney said. "They said, ‘We'd start by looking at functions. Find a function and organize around a function,'" he recalled.

He pointed to workforce training as one example. What Mulvaney found was surprising: 46 federal workforce training programs spread across 13 agencies and nobody in charge. "If you are the president of the United States and you have a problem with workforce, who do you call into the Oval Office?" he asked.

"There's a rule in the private sector. When everybody's in charge, nobody's is in charge. So, maybe part of this reorg is to simply look at the workforce training function and figuring out a way to get all of them into one place so that one man or woman is responsible for them. So, if you are doing good, the president can congratulate that person, and if it's struggling, there's one person the president can look at to try and turn it around. Right now, we don't have that," Mulvaney said.

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