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A novel idea Executive Departments taking charge of their responsibilities

Updated on April 9, 2015

We have fourteen federal departments in the Executive Branch and each one has specific authority and responsibilities but today they do not have total control over their missions and goals. In doing some research it was discovered that interact with other departments as a requirement of their operations but in this requirement it circumvents the authority each department is tasked to achieve.

The decision making process for any of these department level organizations is convoluted.

These departments and operations are so complex it is difficult if not impossible to determine who is in charge at any one time for any one situation. Granted there are complex issues which should have some interaction between departments but when different entities get involved with the same subject it creates confusion. The phrase who’s on first in this situation points to the need to know who is in charge when different departments make different statements or have different positions on the same issue.

One prime example is the topic of our energy needs and what decisions need to be made to bring us to a point of greater energy independence. Based on the topic the Energy Department should be in total control and their mission and goals point toward this end. What becomes complex is the EPA and the State Department get involved with energy decisions. The EPA relates to environmental issues associated with retrieving our energy resources but the charter of the energy department identifies environmental decisions. With respect to the State Department they have been involved as a result of the XL pipeline and its connection to Canada.

The above paragraph identifies involvement with our energy needs by two departments but there is a third. The Department of Interior is also involved with regards to our energy needs associated with public land. Part of the activity of this entity involves renewable resources, solar, wind and waves. If the energy department is going to exist and have the control it needs it should be in total control and not have their decisions impacted by statements or involvement of other departments.

The Department of Education is another area where there are cross functional involvement. This entity has the mission of promoting student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. Some individuals may feel we should not have a department of education and to some extent they are correct as there is no connection to the Constitution. Like the energy department this organization should have total control of education decisions and involvement to the extent of their mission. This department is not immune to involvement of other government organizations. The Department of State is involved with a new program which has been launched called Arkansas Declaration of Learning. There is no reference to any involvement with the Department of Education for this public-private initiative.

As previously mentioned the involvement of multiple departments/agencies leaves a question as to who is in charge in making final decisions regarding the missions and goals of the various executive department organizations. Statements are made many times by organizations regarding such things as energy and education any announcements should come from the agencies responsible for the requirements associated with the laws they are tasked to enforce.

The above are only examples of multiagency involvement in government operations. Along with the executive departments there are hundreds of agencies within them and it is difficult if not impossible to understand under which department to which they report. There needs to be a clear distinction in one place to know the organization structure under each department. When you hear statements from government agencies do we know in all cases to which department they are associated? The answer is no.


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    • Dennis AuBuchon profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis AuBuchon 

      5 years ago


      Thanks for adding your comments to my hub

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You point to dysfunction in government. What a shock! There is no doubt that our government would be well-served by a business structure clearly defining organization and responsibilities.


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