Trump Admin Releases ‘Drain the Swamp’ Guidance to Restructure the Federal Government

Drain the Swamp Evan VucciAP
Evan Vucci/AP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After almost two months of a federal government hiring freeze, Trump administration officials have released guidance on the President’s plan to “drain the swamp,” with what Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney described as the first-ever rebuilding of the federal government.

An April 12 memorandum provides guidance to federal agencies tasked with complying with the  Reorganization Executive Order entitled “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch” as the January 23, 2017 hiring freeze is lifted.

Agencies are instructed to take “immediate actions to achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings, including planning for funding levels in the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Blueprint, develop a plan to maximize employee performance by June 30, 2017, and submit an Agency Reform Plan to OMB in September 2017 as part of the agency’s FY 2019 Budget submission to OMB that includes long-term workforce reductions. An initial, high-level draft of the Agency Reform Plan is due to OMB by June 30, 2017.”

The memorandum outlines “the steps that OMB will take to formulate a comprehensive Government-wide Reform Plan for publication in the President’s FY 2019 Budget … this plan will rely on three primary sources of input: Agency Reform Plans, OMB-coordinated crosscutting proposals, and public input.”

The reform efforts are purported to, among other things, “create a lean, accountable, more efficient government that works for the American people.”

The government hiring freeze that President Trump instituted on January 23, 2017 ends with release of the new guidance memo, Mulvaney said on Tuesday. “This does not mean that the agencies will be free to hire willy nilly,” he added. Mulvaney stated that the guidance simply replaces the “across the board hiring freeze” with “a more surgical plan.”

As the Trump Admin FY 2018 Budget Blueprint shows, some agencies were appropriated more federal funds, while others received fewer — so some will correspondingly be granted an increase in hiring allowance while others will “end up paring their FTEs even greater than they would have had during the hiring freeze.”

Mulvaney called the government reorganization, “one of the biggest stories nobody’s talking about.” He defined the plan as doing something that goes “much deeper into the very structure of government … trying to do something that has never been done before.”

He continued:

The executive branch of government has never been rebuilt. It has grown organically over the course of the last 240 years and the President of the United States has asked all of us in the Executive Branch to start from scratch, a literal blank piece of paper, and say if you were going to rebuild the Executive Branch, what would it look like?

Information has been solicited from both within and outside the federal government, Mulvaney said. He added that CEOs gathered at the White House on Tuesday have also offered input on how the government should be restructured.

The memo instructs all agencies to consult with OMB to identify and begin taking actions to develop a plan to maximize employee performance and an Agency Reform Plan.

Agencies are required to provide a preliminary plan by June 30, 2017. In July, OMB will meet with Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act agencies and a limited number of others to discuss items for the purpose of gathering feedback and incorporating that feedback into draft Agency Reform Plans, according to the memorandum. Those plans are due in September 2017. Implementation of some agreed upon reforms may begin following the July meetings, while reforms continue to be assessed.

Mulvaney conceded that some reform will require the legislative authority.

“Net, we think we could run the government more efficiently than the previous administration can and we think we can run the government with fewer people than the previous administration,” said Mulvaney.

The Director continued, “What kicks in tomorrow is what we call the smart hiring plan.” He said as soon as the guidance goes out, the Administration expects that agencies will review what they interpret to be the President’s priorities, look to the budget blueprint, and “fashion” hiring or paring down of their respective agencies’ workforces.

Asked where expansion and cuts were expected in hiring, Mulvaney directed eyes to look to the President’s Budget Blueprint.

“This is about good government. Okay? It’s not about big government, it’s not about small government, it’s about good government. And that is what I think the President talks about when he talks about draining the swamp,” said Mulvaney. “If you’re on the left, the right, the middle, they don’t know where they are philosophically, they know that Washington doesn’t function well.”

Mulvaney stated that what the “businessman-in-chief” has essentially come to say is, “Make sure this government functions properly. That means it’s going to be more efficient, more accountable, more effective, and providing the services that we need.”

Mulvaney said that this guidance lays out what the President talked about when he referred to draining “the swamp” in Washington, D.C.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 


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