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.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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