Obama directs Cabinet to renew efforts for more efficient government

July 8, 2013 at 1:37 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- Efforts to make government smarter and more user-friendly for the U.S. public, first tackled during his first term, are being redoubled, President Obama said.

Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell will head the work to help agencies to use today's technology to find more innovative ways to serve Americans, Obama said Monday.

"Today I met with all my Cabinet members ... and I directed the Cabinet to develop an aggressive management agenda for my second term that delivers a smarter, more innovative, and more accountable government for its citizens," Obama said when introducing his initiative.

Joining Burwell in searching for private-sector ideas that can be adapted by the federal government will be a new class of 43 presidential innovation fellows, whom he described as having "vast private sector technology expertise who have volunteered to come serve their country in the private sector."

He also called on Congress to give him the authority to reorganize and consolidate the federal bureaucracy

"We're doing a lot of this work administratively," he said, but a "bunch of" rules and poorly designed resignations exist and agencies must go through "bureaucratic hoop-jumping instead of just going in and focusing on mission and delivering good service to our citizens."

"So what we've asked is, let's clean this up; let's consolidate it," Obama said. "Almost every president from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan had this authority to redesign the federal government, the executive branch, to deliver services better. Just like every business owner seeking to make sure that his or her company keeps pace with the times. Currently, we do not have that capacity."

He said he'd still act administratively when possible, "but we sure could use Congress' help."

"Particularly at a time when Congress is saying they want more efficient government -- they give a lot of lip service to it -- and we're operating under severe fiscal constraints, it makes sense for us to be able to redesign government so that it can deliver on the functions that the American people are looking for," Obama said. "We should all want a government that's smarter, quicker and more responsive to the needs of the American people."

During his first term, Obama said "huge swaths" of the federal government have become more efficient, transparent and accountable.

"We found ways to deliver services the American citizens expect in smarter, faster and better ways," he said, citing FEMA's online services for applying for aid, government data now accessible to the public that have been used to create businesses and jobs, and a 3-page application form being developed for the online healthcare marketplace.

"It's a reminder that in this democracy, we the people recognize that this government belongs to us, and it's up to each of us and every one of us to make it work better," Obama said. "We can't just stand on the sidelines. We can't take comfort in just being cynical. We all have a stake in government success because the government is us, and we're doing things right."

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