WASHINGTON - On Friday President Obama asked Congress for the power to consolidate the functions and staff of six trade- and commerce-related agencies: the Small Business Administration; the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; the Export-Import Bank; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and the Trade and Development Agency.
The Washington Post reports that Obama said he would focus initially on entities that deal with small business, but ultimately would like to eliminate inefficiencies throughout the federal government.
"No business or non-profit leader would allow this kind of duplication or unnecessary complexity in their operations," Obama said, adding, "So why is it okay in our government? It€™s not. It has to change."
Under the plan, Obama is seeking broad consolidation authority from Congress, which was granted to the White House during the Great Depression and then taken away from President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Congress would still be able to vote on each specific proposed merger.
The WaPost notes that Obama said his proposal would help small businesses "cut through the bureaucratic morass." He also announced that he was elevating the job of Small Business Administration director, currently held by Karen Mills, to a cabinet-level position to emphasize this effort.
"The government we have is not the government we need," Obama said, adding, "It€™s redundant and inefficient. With the authority I am requesting today, we could consolidate them all into one department."