In a first for Washington, President Trump Monday invited the public to help out in his bid to reorganize the government, cut waste and duplication, all with the goal of saving billions of dollars.
In a new executive order that paves the way for substantial cuts in his forthcoming federal budget, the president made the unusual offer. "All Americans will be able to submit suggestions and ideas on how to make government work better for them," said an official.
Leading the effort will be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, himself a budget hawk and former House member. Trump announced the executive order as Mulvaney stood next to him and the rest of the cabinet in the Oval Office.
"Based on this input, we will develop a detailed plan to make the federal government work better, reorgaizaing, consolidating and eliminating where necessary. In other words, making the federal government more efficient and very, very cost productive. So we're going to do something, I think, very, very special," said the president.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, cheered the executive order. He told Secrets, "Too many politicians come into Washington promising to drain the swamp and quickly decide it is a hot tub. Trump has decided to act quickly before he or his administration got seduced into thinking 'slow and stupid' is the acceptable norm."
With the "Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch" executive order, the president hopes to act on hundreds of recommendations from government auditors to streamline Cabinet departments and agencies, end rampant duplication and trim waste.
The president believes that billions of dollars can be saved by just implementing those recommendations.
But officials say he wants more. To do that, Mulvaney is charged with finding more cuts and each department head will also be ordered to draw up a list of changes. "Each agency and department will submit a detailed report including ideas for concrete improvements to improve its efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability," said an official.
From the first day, Trump and his team, notably spokesman Sean Spicer, have made a point to emphasize that the new administration's goal is to save money and cut taxpayer expenses.
Competitive Enterprise Institute President Kent Lassman praised the potential to kill costly regulations. He said, "The burden of the federal government on the economy has grown like kudzu over the past two decades, under both parties, and it needs to be thinned to allow room for innovation and dynamic enterprise. The president's executive order to reorganize the executive branch is an encouraging sign for consumers, taxpayers and businesses alike because it shows he is focused on the serious negative effects of too much complex regulation."
Officials explained what they are up against:
— Under President Obama, our National debt grew by 88 percent from $10.6 trillion on January 20, 2009, to $19.9 trillion on January 19, 2017.
— Every child born today inherits over $61,000 in debt.
— In April 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Executive Branch and Congress failed to fully address a majority of the government fragmentation, overlap, and duplication identified by the GAO.
— The Executive Branch has failed to fully follow through 53 percent of the time, failing to act on 243 of the 459 identified instances of bureaucratic duplication and waste.
— Congress has failed to fully follow through 62 percent of the time, failing to act on 53 of the 85
identified instances of bureaucratic duplication and waste.
— In 2016, the GAO identified 92 more instances of duplication and waste.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org