Executive Orders and Their Impact on Current and Future Staffing

After reading and reviewing presidential executive orders for a while now (beginning with the Obama orders of late fall 2016), I find myself thinking about the impact of these executive orders on the various government departments and agencies that an order names for implementation. If there are hundreds, even thousands of these orders over decades, the incremental increase of work for those designated for implementation becomes something to be concerned about, or at least address.

I do not know anything about the detailed management of a government entity, so there may well be in its rules and regulations a systematic way of determining what their daily priorities are, but like anything else, adding on new expectations of work, including meeting times for coordination and/or deliberation, would inevitably mean not doing something else, or at the very least, putting off until later.

I wonder the extent to which past executive orders have simply died on the vine due to not being a priority for the sitting president or cabinet officer. I also wonder the extent of bureaucracy bloat that can be attributed to the need for more assistants to carry out all the designated priority tasks on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis.

If I were president, I might advocate insertion of sunset clauses or inclusion of supplemental statements indicating the need/desire to not increase staffing as a result of an executive order, thus requiring a careful review of priorities and perhaps a brief report back if a department deems too many other tasks take a higher priority than the current new one. That way some deeper review could occur as to whether or not the executive order should be issued at all.  Obviously, my not knowing how things really work in the federal bureaucracy means I do not know if this kind of review is already part of the drafting and vetting process for any new executive order, but if so, someplace there should be a public record of what was decided NOT to continue doing in order to implement major new initiatives.

As I contemplate the imminent beginning of a new administration and a completely new White House staff, I suspect some of the initiatives of President Obama will just disappear without official executive action. Some may be intentionally abandoned without fanfare and others may not be part of ongoing department or agency activity simply because there is no institutional memory (due to staff and leadership changes) to keep them going. The potential for inefficiency and ineffectiveness seems to loom large with the incoming administration not being known for attention to detail and effective management. Since so much of the bureaucratic management of government operations is largely inaccessible to us average citizens, we may not know about anything more than the major catastrophes that occur as a result of poor administrative management.

Executive Branch management is worth monitoring, but I am still thinking about how that might be best be done.


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