The White House announced a plan on June 21 to merge the Education and Labor departments to form a new agency dubbed the Department of Education and the Workforce.
The proposed agency is part of a larger reorganization of the federal government. Last year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to work on the comprehensive plan.
According to an OMB summary, the merged agency “would be charged with meeting the needs of American students and workers, from education and skill development to workplace protection to retirement security.” The Labor Department is currently headed by Secretary Alex Acosta and the Education Department by Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The move is part of fulfilling Trump’s pledge to limit the size and scope of the federal government after the previous administration increased the nation’s regulatory burden by more than $122 billion annually. The Trump administration has since set records in cutting red tape.
“Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted on activities that are not delivering results for hardworking American taxpayers,” Trump said in a White House statement.
After a year of planning, the administration also announced, among other proposals, a plan to streamline all federal food safety oversight into a single agency, the Federal Food Safety Agency. It’s likely the changes will need approval from Congress.
As of January this year, the U.S. Department of Education now employs around 4,000 people and has a budget of $68 billion. According to an Inside Higher Ed analysis of employee data, the department has shrunk by over 550 workers, reducing its staff by 13 percent, since Trump took office.
The Labor Department employs around 15,000.
“This effort, along with the recent executive orders on federal unions, are the biggest pieces so far of our plan to drain the swamp,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the OMB, said June 21.
“The federal government is bloated, opaque, bureaucratic, and inefficient.”
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