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Downsizing the Federal Government using Common Sense

Updated on January 25, 2017

The term common sense to some may seem strange to apply it to the operations of the federal government but sadly it is a philosophy or frame of mind which has been missing within the federal government. The federal government over the years and perhaps decades has become bloated with ever increasing the number of agencies and programs which have been created some of which appear to have lost their justification for existence.

Currently the list of departments and agencies number over 700 and should be examined individually to determine if the justification for their existence is still in place. Looking at the list of the agencies and in some cases the departments it appears clear that the justification for their existence may no longer exist or never existed in the first place. This is based on the name of the agency in some respects in fact many do not even have a mission or vision for their operations.

In relation to the number of programs that are in place they can only be found within each of the executive departments and I understand that this is necessary in some cases for national security reasons. Some have said that once a program is in place it seems to continue to be funded in many cases when the purpose for it has been accomplished. The proposal for action or objective presented to Congress each year as a state of the union address should specifically detail funding proposals.

Action to review and evaluate the necessity of current regulations in place should contain some primary criteria. One involves whether it is justified based on the law or laws it purports to enforce. Another is whether it is hurting or helping our economy. The last and there may be others is to decide what would happen if a regulation is cancelled. This should be looked at both in a positive and negative perspective.

Downsizing the federal government in some cases involves Congress and in others not so much. Each year a State of the Union address is presented to Congress as to the perspective and objectives of a President’s approach in addressing the issues of the country. It culminates in a detailed budget presented to Congress for review, approval or rejection. If certain parts are not agreeable to the Senate or the House of Representatives each legislative branch should present alternative solutions for consideration by the President.

The President has unique authority in some cases that many individuals have not realized but they realize them now with the actions taken by President Trump. The main point being learned about the authority of the President is that he is in charge of the Executive Department not Congress. Downsizing the federal government will not be an easy task to accomplish if you are thinking in the normal sense but the normal we have come to witness in President Trump has surprised many individuals and in some cases the media.

The President has the authority to evaluate the justification for the existence of any Executive Department and/or agency in addition to the programs that are in place. Downsizing the federal government starts in the Executive Department of which he is in charge. Managers in business make decisions for their organizations and a President makes decisions for the Executive Department. Too long Congress has been spending more money than it takes in and this is part of downsizing actions which needs to take place.

A President cannot change the law but he can make policy decisions in conjunction with the laws of the land and his authority granted under the Constitution. Directing departments and agencies in the Executive Department is accomplished through two methods. One is an executive memorandum and the other is executive orders the concept and authority of which has been violated in the past. Our country has been hurting economically for years and in some cases decades for which both political parties and Congress is partly responsible. It is time to streamline the federal government to make it more efficient and economical and reducing the size of the federal government will reduce cost. In addition there are a number of functions which have been spread over multiple departments and agencies which a GAO report in the past has identified but the duplication continues.

Part of the actions to reshape the federal government involves getting rid of red tape and eliminating duplication within the structure of the federal government. Getting rid of duplication is logical in that why do you need more than one department or agency involved in the same topic. Topics if they are warranted should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the department or agency that has direct authority and responsibility to make any decisions necessary. The key is making the right decisions for our country, our citizens and national security.


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