President Obama has designated Jeffrey Zients, Deputy Director of OMB and the government’s Chief Performance Officer, to develop a plan to restructure and streamline the executive branch of government.  In a memo to federal agency heads, the president said the need to restructure government operations is imperative because agencies’ ways of doing business have not kept pace with changes occurring in today’s information age.  “Government agencies have grown without overall strategic planning and duplicative programs have sprung up, making it harder for each to reach its goals” the memo stated.  The president called for consolidating and reorganizing the federal government so that it can “best support American competitiveness and innovation.”


The memo directs Zients to set up a Government Reform for “Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative” to review federal agencies’ programs involved in trade and competitiveness.  This review is to analyze these programs’ scope and effectiveness, identify overlaps, duplications, and unmet needs, and look for potential savings.  According to the memo’s direction, this review will not be entirely internal.  It directs consultations with “external stakeholders” (Congress, business, unions, nongovernmental organizations, and other outside experts) to gain their perspectives on how government agencies can become more efficient and effective.


All of the work under this reform initiative, according to the memo, should focus on how best to help business and workers become more competitive in the global economy.  And, it should underscore agencies’ responsibilities to make their programs and operations more transparent, understandable, and accessible. 


Zients is directed to submit to the president, within 90 days, recommendations, developed during this review, on how to restructure and streamline federal programs related to trade and competitiveness.  The recommendations should also identify action Congress can take to facilitate these efforts.