Today, the White House released a report detailing its plans to reorganize the executive branch entitled, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations.” This report is in response to the President’s March 2017 Executive Order directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to propose a comprehensive plan to reorganize federal agencies. The report highlights 32 proposals, which impact the following agencies with employees represented by NTEU:
- Health and Human Services (HHS),
- Department of Energy (DOE),
- Department of Agriculture (USDA),
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The administration’s proposal separates USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) voucher programs from the commodity-based programs. Specifically, the administration proposes to move SNAP, WIC, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs into HHS’s Administration on Children and Families. USDA, whether with a smaller FNS or a different division, would continue to administer the commodity-based programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and others. HHS would be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare.
A new Federal Food Safety Agency would combine the “food” duties of the FDA with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. This new Food Safety Agency would be part of USDA. Following the food reorganization, FDA (which would be renamed the “Federal Drug Administration”) would focus on drugs, devices, biologics, tobacco, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. The proposed consolidation would merge approximately 5,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees and $1.3 billion from FDA with about 9,200 FTEs and $1 billion in resources in USDA.
The proposal calls for a reorganization within DOE, with an emphasis on consolidating currently existing offices and programs. However, there are few concrete details.
The administration also proposes to require the Department of the Treasury to develop recommendations for federal financial literacy and education activities that will be shared with OMB before October 1, 2018. The CFPB performs significant and important work on financial literacy. Given the administration’s hostility towards CFPB, this could be an attempt to weaken the agency.
In addition, the report proposes to break apart the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), moving core employee policy divisions to the White House. Additionally, retirement processing of annuities and the administration of FEHBP would move to a renamed GSA, the Government Services Agency, and federal employee background investigations would be transferred to the Department of Defense. While NTEU does not represent OPM employees, we are concerned about the break-up of retirement and health care policy and operations, and the loss of needed independence from all White Houses for federal employee and workforce management policy-making and decisions.
The majority of these proposals will require congressional action, and NTEU will work closely with our allies on Capitol Hill to ensure that we are not harmed should these proposals take effect. NTEU will continue to work to obtain further details on the administration’s plans but believes there has also been a lost opportunity by not engaging with, and including, frontline employees in ways to improve agency functions and operations from the very beginning.
I will keep you posted as more information becomes available.