Obama’s Picks for Commerce, USTR Revive Reorganization Talk

President Obama’s announcement of nominations to run the Commerce Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative set in motion new speculation about prospects for Obama’s 2012 plan to seek authority from Congress to consolidate agencies.

Before departing for Mexico, Obama on Thursday said he planned to send the Senate the name of Penny Pritzker, a hotel magnate and Obama campaign donor, to be Commerce Secretary, and the name of Michael Froman, a White House international economics adviser, to be USTR.

Both positions are currently vacant. Commerce has been run on an acting basis by Rebecca Blank and USTR by Demetrios Marantis.

Both agencies would figure in an Obama administration proposal -- first introduced in January 2012 -- to create a department of business by combining such agencies as Commerce, USTR, the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank. The consolidation would require Congress to revive authority past presidents enjoyed until the 1980s.

Though Congress expressed some interest, the plan made little headway, with objections coming from environmental groups seeking to shield regulations from business, trade lobbies seeking to preserve USTR’s Cabinet status and lawmakers protective of their committee turf.

Steve Posner, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said on Friday that “the president continues to support his proposal to reorganize business-related agencies into a single department. The proposal was included again in his FY 2014 budget.” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said, “We’re still waiting. I’m disappointed the president has not proposed a detailed plan, but if he does a restructuring could still happen.” Last year, Issa expressed disappointment that the White House had “not embraced earlier bipartisan congressional efforts seeking collaborative engagement on proposals to reorganize government.”

On the Senate side, Mark Warner, D-Va., in the past Congress introduced a bill to give the president reorganization authority. An aide said he plans to reintroduce the legislation, but that details are not firm.

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

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

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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