By Jeff Zients and John Engler
So much has changed over the past 30 years. The Cold War has given way to a globalized, interdependent world. Landlines turned into smartphones. The Internet is no longer a research tool for a few. In response, companies have re-engineered themselves for this new digital information era, and governors have redesigned and modernized their states’ governments.
While change surrounds us, however, the federal government has stayed stuck in the past.
We are living and competing in a 21st-century economy, while struggling with a 20th-century bureaucracy. Over many years and several administrations, the federal government has added new programs, offices and agencies. Rarely have we seen departments or agencies downsized, much less eliminated. The result: overlapping, even duplicative responsibilities that waste taxpayer dollars and needlessly complicate government.
Right now, six departments and agencies focus primarily on business and trade; five deal with housing, and more than a dozen are involved in food safety. There are duplicative programs in dozens of areas across the government, a recent Government Accountability Office report found, noting that Congress has acted on less than 40 percent of GAO’s waste-cutting recommendations.
When job creation is among our most urgent tasks, we cannot afford to be held back by bureaucratic barriers that make it harder for our businesses to hire, expand and export — or harder to set new priorities that can address today’s problems.