Federal Reorganization and Budget Reform

September 9, 1977

Report Outline
Quest for Government Efficiency
Past Efforts at Federal Reorganization
The Progress of the Carter Reforms
Special Focus

Quest for Government Efficiency

Carter's Plan to Revamp the Bureaucracy

A major promise of President Carter's 1976 election campaign was to improve the effectiveness of government. Since taking office, the President has proposed achievement of that objective through reorganization of the management and budgeting of more than 2,000 federal agencies. Intended to curtail wasteful expenditures and unnecessary duplication of activities, the Carter reforms may put a brake on future federal spending. Little effect can be expected in the 1978 fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, 1977, and inflation may prevent reduction of total expenditures in future fiscal years. But the reforms may at least hold spending increases in check to some degree.

Carter said last June that the reorganization effort initially would focus on streamlining the performance of the federal government in areas of social welfare, civil rights and economic development, where a variety of bureaus conduct programs with similar goals but with sometimes conflicting methods and standards. Over the long run, the administration is planning to consolidate or abolish hundreds of federal activities. But some fiscal experts are dubious about the promised benefits of such a venture. Specifically, they question whether transforming the structure of the bureaucracy will actually reduce its size and cost.

The Reorganization Act of 1977, which the President signed into law on April 6, gives him authority for the next three years to submit to Congress reorganization proposals that will take effect in 60 days unless rejected by either the House or the Senate. The first plan Carter has submitted under this act becomes effective Sept. 13, barring congressional rejection. Congress had granted a similar prerogative to chief executives from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard M. Nixon, but allowed it to expire in 1973 during the height of Nixon's Watergate crisis. Under the new law, Carter can create, regroup or eliminate sub-cabinet agencies; however, he does not have the power to reorganize cabinet-level departments or limit the enforcement functions of independent regulatory commissions.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Federal Budget and National Debt
Sep. 01, 2017  National Debt
Jul. 12, 2013  Government Spending
May 15, 2012  State Capitalism
Mar. 18, 2011  National Debt
Nov. 14, 2008  The National Debt
Dec. 09, 2005  Budget Deficit
Apr. 13, 2001  Budget Surplus
Feb. 01, 1991  Recession's Regional Impact
Jan. 20, 1984  Federal Budget Deficit
Sep. 09, 1977  Federal Reorganization and Budget Reform
Nov. 24, 1972  Limits on Federal Spending
Jan. 08, 1969  Federal Budget Making
Dec. 06, 1967  National Debt Management
Aug. 01, 1962  Fiscal and Budget Policy
Nov. 27, 1957  National Debt Limit
Mar. 20, 1957  Spending Controls
Dec. 24, 1953  Public Debt Limit
Feb. 13, 1952  Tax and Debt Limitation
Nov. 30, 1949  Government Spending
Jan. 06, 1948  Legislative Budget-Making
May 23, 1944  The National Debt
Feb. 01, 1943  The Executive Budget and Appropriations by Congress
Dec. 27, 1939  Revision of the Federal Budget System
Oct. 10, 1938  The Outstanding Government Debt
Nov. 20, 1937  Budget Balancing vs. Pump Priming
May 02, 1936  The Deficit and the Public Debt
Oct. 19, 1934  The Federal Budget and the Public Debt
Feb. 10, 1933  Extraordinary Budgeting of Federal Finances
Dec. 01, 1932  Reduction of Federal Expenditures
Dec. 01, 1930  The National Budget System
Oct. 02, 1930  Federal Revenues and Expenditures
Nov. 02, 1927  The Public Debt and Foreign Loans
Nov. 15, 1926  Rising Cost of Government in the United States
Feb. 05, 1925  Four Years Under the Budget System
Budget Process