President Donald J. Trump’s cabinet met at the White House last week to learn about a government-wide reorganization.
This is Trahant Reports.
The administration plan is “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century.” It says today’s executive branch is still aligned to “the stove-piped organizational constructs of the 20th Century.”
The Interior Department’s realignment is included in the plan. A letter went to tribes in May outlining a consultation schedule. However at the recent National Congress of American Indians Mid Year meeting, a resolution was enacted that expressed concern about the time frame.
Another program that would impact American Indians and Alaska Natives is to move food assistance out of the Department of Agriculture and into the Department of Health and Human Services (which would also be renamed, the Department of Health and Public Welfare.) There would also be a new Council on Public Assistance with statutory authority to set cross-program policies, including requiring work.
Another program shift, if enacted, that would have a direct bearing on Indian Country is a proposal to sharply reduce the Commissioned Officers Corps of the Public Health Service. The corps plays a critical role in the staffing of doctors, nurses, dieticians, and dentists, in Indian Health Service facilities. This proposal, HHS would reduce the size of the corps to 4,000 officers from 6,500 at current levels. It would create a reserve force that would “deploy in times of national need.”
In addition to reducing the size of the corps, the proposed reorganization would charge more for agencies where the officers are placed “to ensure each agency pays its fair share.” This would increase the cost for medical professionals at the Indian Health Service, and tribal, and nonprofit health facilities.
There are dozens of other reorganization proposals, ranging from moving salmon recovery programs to managing real estate.
As the report points out, other reform proposals have not been approved by Congress. In 1971 President Richard Nixon sought to create four super cabinet agencies. He suggested four “goal-oriented departments concerned with our communities, our earth, our economy, and our potential as individuals.
The problem for Nixon was that a streamlined federal government also meant fewer committee chairs in Congress and a loss of power for members in the House and Senate.
And Congress did not like that idea. Not at all.
I am Mark Trahant.