Management by Re-organization
By Arnold Kling
James Pinkerton pushes an idea to make the Federal government more effective.
[Former Congressman Bob] Walker’s idea, which makes it print debut here in TCSDaily, is this: Take the functions of the federal executive branch and turn them all into five “super departments.” That is, take the existing unwieldy 15 Cabinet departments — and umpty-ump independent agencies — and collapse them into a user-friendly quintet:
* National Security – including Defense, State, the CIA
* Economy & Trade – including Treasury, Commerce, Special Trade Representative
* Justice, Border & Homeland Security
* Energy, Environment, Science & Technology
* Human Resources & Transportation
I spent several years in middle management at Freddie Mac, the shareholder owned Government-sponsored enterprise that helps make the mortgage market. We were quite cynical about re-organizations. As one employee put it, “When they don’t know what to do, they re-org.” The only constructive use for re-organizations that I ever saw was to use them as cover to get rid of management deadwood.
A re-organization like the Walker plan would create all sorts of uncertainty about where people fit in relative to the hierarchy. Middle managers would spend years jockeying for position, causing effectiveness to suffer. I am convinced that is what happened to the departments that were consolidated into Homeland Security.
I don’t think that Bob Walker would solve anything. What Washington needs is Chainsaw Al.