Analysis: How will a government reorganization work?

Donald Kettl, Dean of the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

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In his State of the Union address, President Obama said he plans to try to eliminate and reduce the overlap and redundancy that has built up over the last 60 years.

How the government restructures will first depend on first determining agencies’ performance goals. The actual structural change is the last question, said Donald Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

If the restructure is simply to change a political symbol, then the initiative could end up costing more money, Kettl said.

“It sounds good but doesn’t actually save very much cash,” he said.

Restructuring also could face pushback because it challenges already-drawn lines of authority, he added.

“On the Hill, jurisdictions convey power and with the power comes the ability to shape policy the way that you want it. When you start messing around with their lines, you’re talking about taking power away from committee chairs and subcommittee chairs . Then you’re picking very serious battles,” Kettl said.

President Obama indicated in his Tuesday’s State of the Union address that he would propose a five-year freeze on domestic spending.

Federal News Radio senior correspondent Mike Causey said five years is a “lifetime” in politics.

“You may mandate a program for five years, but the next Congress may very well change it,” Causey said.

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