Mick Mulvaney wields the Shop-Vac

Nothing like a painting crew to prompt a little housecleaning. At our now-empty nest of a house (the dog died in December), my better half decided the time had come for a refresh. You wouldn’t believe the volume of stuff that came out of just one small closet behind the kitchen. I wondered, why did we save these Saran Wrap Maid-of-the-Mist ponchos?

No way we’re going to stuff it all back in there. Instead, bales of plastic ponchos, gloves, watch caps, baseball caps, umbrellas, old hoodies, jackets and coats, string bags, backpacks and hangers are all headed for a donation box. I Shop-Vac’d a desiccated carcass of what might have been a toad.

Now Director Mick Mulvaney has cleaned out the Office of Management and Budget’s cupboard full of reporting requirements, rules and regulations for federal agencies. They’ve been accumulating since the Bill Clinton administration. If you like junk-thinning, you’ll love this one.

In his June 15 memorandum, Mulvaney eliminated literally dozens of old memos. The oldest dates to April 1997, “Evaluation of Agency Implementation of Capital Planning and Investment Control Processes.” Many have been superseded by later administration actions or new laws. Some make fun historic reading, like the slew of reporting requirements on updating computer systems for the year 2000. Remember when no one knew if the world would end because of two-digit date codes programmed in the early days of computing? We worried systems would interpret “00” as 1900. More than half the material has to do with outdated information technology reports.

Most of what Mulvaney is tossing should have been shredded years ago.

Where he couldn’t eliminate them, Mulvaney ordered partial elimination, modification, or pause. For instance, a memo outlining how to do business cases for multi-agency or governmentwide acquisition contracts will undergo some simplification. So will Part 6, Section 270 of the already-revised Circular A-11 such that you can skip a lot of paperwork “for any current strategic objectives that an agency determines will be substantively different or no longer aligned with the current administration’s policy, legislative, regulatory or budgetary priorities.”

Put on ice like shucked oysters: several reporting requirements under Circulars A-123, A-126 and A-131. They have to do with acquisition assessments, management of government aircraft, and value engineering.

Mulvaney promised this clean-out will launch a longer-term plan to develop a more systematic way to eliminate obsolete rules and reports. He said OMB will work with other management agencies — mainly the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration. He wants to ferret out more “low-value, duplicative and obsolete requirements.”

Who can argue with that?

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