Jeffrey Zients, federal chief performance officer and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget for management, will lead the effort to reorganize federal agencies that President Obama unveiled in his State of the Union address, the White House announced Sunday.
In a post on the White House blog, communications director Dan Pfeiffer said the president asked Zients, who has directed the Obama administration's Accountable Government Initiative to improve federal management, to oversee the reorganization effort.
The first part of the initiative will focus on government's trade and export functions. "The president believes that we need to reform our government to make it better organized and better equipped to support American competitiveness, Pfeiffer wrote. "We want to ensure that we're aligning all of the resources we have into negotiating the best agreements, enforcing our trade rights, supporting our exporters and promoting their products."
That's not a big surprise. As Robert Brodsky reported after the president's address, a recent influential report by the Center for American Progress made the case for overhauling trade-related agencies:
The December 2010 report, A Focus on Competitiveness; Restructuring Policymaking for Results outlined a number of scenarios for restructuring agencies to make the government more competitive in a global market -- a recurring theme in the State of the Union speech.
The group proposes creating a Department of Business, Trade, and Technology by combining agencies at the Commerce Department with several trade and business-centered agencies and offices. They include the Small Business Administration, the United States Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
Obama also asked Lisa Brown, who currently serves as assistant to the president and staff secretary, to work with Zients on the reorganization. Brown co-chaired the group that reviewed federal agency operations for the Obama-Biden transition team in 2008. " In these capacities and from her prior government service, she has developed a keen understanding of how the executive branch works," Pfeiffer wrote.