President is asking Congress for powers to reorganize agencies
It may not be one of President Barack Obama's highest-profile presidential promises, but he hasn't let go of his idea to consolidate nine government agencies that deal with commerce into a single federal department.
During the 2012 campaign, Obama said he wants to "consolidate a whole bunch of government agencies. We should have one secretary of business.”
Since his re-election, Obama has continued to push the idea. In January 2013, he announced his proposal, seeking greater authority from Congress to allow reorganize the government, starting with a consolidation of business agencies into "one more efficient department to promote competitiveness, exports and American business.”
He repeated the call in his proposed budget, specifying that "the new department would include the Department of Commerce's core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
"It would also incorporate related programs from a number of other departments, including the Department of Agriculture's business development programs, the Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund program, the National Science Foundation's statistical agency and industry partnership programs, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the Department of Labor.”
In the meantime, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would be moved from the Commerce Department to the Interior Department.
As recently as July 8, Obama held a public event at the White House to promote his agenda on government reorganization. "We're doing a lot of this work administratively, but unfortunately there are still a bunch of rules, a lot of legislation that has poorly designed some of our agencies and forces folks to engage in hoop jumping,” he said.
Obama argued that "every president from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan had this authority to redesign the federal government, the executive branch, to deliver services better -- just like every business owner seeking to make sure that his or her company keep pace with the times. Currently, we do not have that capacity.”
Obama's proposal can't happen without cooperation from Congress, and he's had a difficult time getting his agenda through the Republican-controlled House. So this is hardly a fait accompli. Still, Obama has created a specific proposal and has held a public event to promote it. This is enough to move it to In the Works.
Barack Obama, remarks by the president presenting a new management agenda, July 08, 2013
White House, "Government Reorganization Fact Sheet," Jan. 13, 2012
White House, president's budget for fiscal year 2014 ("Creating a 21st Century Government”), accessed Aug. 8, 2013
White House, "President Obama Announces proposal to reform, reorganize and consolidate Government," Jan. 13, 2012