Reorganization of Federal Administrative Agencies

September 17, 1936

Report Outline
Reorganization Moves in Next Congress
Reorganization Movement Before 1933
Administrative Changes Under New Deal
Obstacles to Drastic Reorganization
Special Focus

Reorganization Moves in Next Congress

With two expert committees—one responsible to Congress and the other to the President—at present conducting a comprehensive survey of the organization and functions of all federal administrative agencies, sweeping reorganization of the executive departments and independent agencies may be ordered by Congress at the next session. A plan of reorganization, based in part on the findings of his committee, probably will be presented to Congress by President Roosevelt in the event of his reelection. The committee's findings also might form the basis for similar action by Governor Landon if he should be elected to the presidency. Any plan submitted by the President, however, would be carefully scrutinized by Congress in the light of the findings of its own committee.

President Roosevelt may deal with his reorganization plans in campaign speeches before the November election in an effort to counter Republican charges that he has violated the pledge of the 1932 Democratic platform for “an immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus, and eliminating extravagance, to accomplish a saving of not less than 25 per cent in the cost of federal government.” Before his inauguration, President Roosevelt was given almost plenary power by Congress to abolish and transfer exiting agencies. This power expired on March 20, 1935, without, having been used by the President for any comprehensive reorganization of the executive branch. Meanwhile, the difficulties of ultimate reorganization had been immensely increased by the establishment of a large number of new agencies both of a temporary and a permanent character.

Surveys Under Way for Congress and President

New action looking toward governmental reorganization was initiated January 9, 1936, with the introduction by Senator Byrd (D., Va.) of a resolution providing for appointment of a Senate committee to make a “full and complete study” of all agencies in the executive branch of the federal government to determine “whether the activities of any such agency conflict with or overlap the activities of any other such agency and whether, in the interest of simplification, efficiency, and economy, any of such agencies should be coordinated with other agencies or abolished, or the personnel thereof reduced.” In adopting the resolution on February 24, the Senate cut the proposed appropriation to finance the study from $50,000 to $20,000. Vice President Garner, on February 26, appointed Senator Byrd chairman of a committee composed of Senators O'Mahoney (D., Wyo.), Robinson (D., Ark.), McNary (R., Ore.), and Townsend (R., Del.). The committee subsequently detailed to the Brookings Institution the task of making a preliminary fact-finding survey.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Governmental Reorganization
May 15, 1946  Government Reorganization
Sep. 17, 1936  Reorganization of Federal Administrative Agencies
Nov. 27, 1929  Reorganization of Government Departments
Sep. 17, 1925  Reorganization of Executive Departments
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