WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

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GovExec: Obama's Proposed Reorganization Of Federal Agencies

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Members of the House of Representatives have returned from their winter break, and Senators will join them next week. One of the items on their agenda is a request from President Obama for the power to reorganize federal agencies. Talking with Matt Bush about the impact that proposal could have on federal workers in the area is Charles Clark, senior correspondent for Government Executive.

Here are some highlights:

On the scope of President Obama's proposal: He announced on Friday that it would involve six agencies -- they're all trade and commerce-oriented. He had given an indication in his state of the union a year ago that he would be focusing first on commerce and exports.

On what this means for federal workers in those agencies: "The estimate is between 1,000 and 2,000 full-time equivalents would be eliminated in this reorganization. It's hoped that this would be accomplished through attrition, but the two major federal employee's unions are a little wary of it. They worry about arbitrary numbers of jobs being cut."

On whether this has happened before: "The administrations from FDR through the Reagan administration had this authority. It was eliminated by Democrats in Congress in about 1984 as a way of gaining leverage over President Reagan's desire to shrink government."

After 9/11, there was the major organization that was the establishment of the Homeland Security Department and the reorganization of the intelligence communities.

On whether Congress will grant the President's request: There's a begrudging willingness to cooperate. Republicans may feel as though President Obama is stealing a march on them by going for the streamlining and endeavoring to cater to the needs of the business community. But they are on-board with the idea of decreasing duplication in government agencies.

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