President Obama Recommends Consolidation of Commerce Agencies

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by NADO Admin

On January 13, President Obama requested from Congress the authority to reorganize and consolidate parts of the federal government, and proposed to merge several of the U.S Department of Commerce’s trade and commerce agencies into a single department.  The agencies named in the potential consolidation include: 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.

According to statements made by Jeffrey Zients, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the new single department, to be led by a new secretary, would be built around four economic pillars: trade and investment; small business and economic development; technology and innovation (which would include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office); and statistics (which would include the Census Bureau).

According to the Administration, the purpose of this move would be to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses and save money by eliminating duplicative functions.  Under the plan, the President is requesting broad consolidation authority from Congress, a power originally granted to the White House by Congress during the Great Depression and rescinded under President Reagan in 1984.  Under this authority, the President can submit a proposal to Congress which would be approved or disapproved through a simple up or down vote in 90 days.

President Obama also announced plans to elevate the Small Business Administration (SBA), currently led by Administrator Karen Mills, to a cabinet-level agency and plans to unveil a new website for small businesses in the coming weeks.

As specific details of the plan have not been made public, it is unclear how the proposed consolidation would affect agencies under the Department of Commerce.  It is anticipated that the details may be included in the President’s FY2013 budget to be released on February 6.  So far, the proposal has received mixed reviews on Capitol Hill.

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