White House Reorganization Proposal Includes Science Agency Reforms

Jun 29, 2018

The White House recently released a blueprint for a proposed overhaul of much of the federal government. “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations” proposes changes that affect many of the scientific agencies, and are based on workforce reform plans federal agencies were mandated to submit last fall. While the administration has already and continues to implement some of the changes, many of the larger proposals require congressional authorization to move forward.

Looking at the Department of Energy (DOE), the blueprint proposes creating a new “Office of Energy Innovation” that combines the Offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Nuclear Energy and Fossil Energy, with a stronger focus on early stage research and development. The blueprint also proposes eliminating the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), explaining, “While the [ARPA-E] program features positive aspects, such as coordination with industry and cross-cutting research, it makes little strategic sense that this entity exists independent of DOE’s main applied research programs.”

For the National Science Foundation (NSF), the plan proposes consolidating all “smaller” graduate research fellowship programs across the federal government into one office under NSF as the agency already awards the highest number of graduate fellowships. The plan states doing this “could be more efficient and produce savings if fellowship offices at other agencies can be downsized or eliminated.”

The Department of Education and Department of Labor would merge into the “Department of Education and the Workforce” (DEW). The plan explained that both agencies share a common mission of “preparing Americans for success in a globally competitive world,” and this consolidation “would help create alignment throughout the education-to-career pipeline, while also creating coherence within the workforce development and higher education worlds.” The new DEW would include four subcommittees: K-12 Education, American Workforce and higher Education Administration (AWHEA); Research, Evaluation, and Administration; and Enforcement.

The plan proposes combining the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health; and National Institute of Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research from the Department of Health and Human Services into one entity under the National Institutes of Health.

Most of the reorganization plan will still require Congressional approval, creating a turf battle for congressional committees that could lose power if their jurisdictions change.  

To view the plan in full, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Government-Reform-and-Reorg-Plan.pdf

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