Government reorg first needs solid foundation

Tuesday - 2/21/2012, 11:04am EST

John Palguta, vice president for policy, Partnership for Public Service

Download mp3

President Obama is seeking the authority to merge six agencies that deal with business and trade.

Before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, the Partnership for Public Service testified that Congress needed to have answered many questions before moving ahead with a government reorganization.

"Think of it like a chainsaw. You can make a real mess or you can do something useful," said John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

The Partnership submitted to the Committee 25 questions Congress should consider, including:

  • What are the problems the reorganization is trying to solve? Has the government considered other options first?
  • How long will the reorganization take? How much will it cost?
    "Reorganizations involve an upfront investment," Palguta said. "You can't do it well on the cheap. If you do it well, there are long-term savings."
  • What are the skills and competencies needed?
  • Which congressional committees will oversee the reorg?

Palguta said continuity of leadership will be important, considering a reorganization often continues under a new administration.

"The budget is pushing us to see if we can get it done now, get it done right and make sure things keep functioning," Palguta said. "The bottom line is ... you've got to have a good foundation in place or there's going to be a real mess."

RELATED STORIES

White House unveils new trade initiatives, website as first steps in agency overhaul

Obama seeks power to merge agencies