Obama Renews Call for Consolidation Authority, Defends Feds

President Obama outlines his vision for better government services. President Obama outlines his vision for better government services. Susan Walsh/AP

This story has been updated. 

During a management reform speech Monday that focused largely on technology’s critical role in making government more efficient, President Obama also defended the federal workforce and nudged Congress to grant him long-sought authority to consolidate agencies to curb duplication.

Obama touted first-term progress, but pledged to get more aggressive in pushing innovation.

“We’ve been doing a lot of this work administratively,” he said, “but unfortunately, a lot of rules and legislation that were poorly designed force agencies into a lot of bureaucratic hoop-jumping, instead of concentrating on” providing good service to citizens.

He reiterated his previous request for Congress to give him authority to consolidate agencies to reduce duplication, a power presidents enjoyed until the 1980s. “Like a business, government needs to keep pace with the times,” Obama said. “We sure could use Congress’ help, especially given our fiscal constraints,” he added. “They talk about government efficiency and give lots of lip service to it. But it makes sense to redesign government so that it can deliver what people want it to.” 

Obama also stressed that the government has “a lot of dedicated and talented civil servants working every day to earn the public’s trust.” He said he will be asking more citizens to serve. “We the people means this government belongs to us,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to make it better rather standing on the sidelines and being cynical. We’ve got the potential to do so much better than we are doing now.” 

Obama’s talk drew praise from Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Strong management is critical to ensuring an effective, efficient, and innovative government,” Carper said in a statement. “From improving ways to measure the performance of government agencies and programs, to increasing public transparency on how our tax dollars are spent, to rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in government programs, strong management can save billions and make our government work better.” Carper called the effort an important part of his committee’s agenda.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.