Zients to lead government reorganization project

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 30, 2011; 7:43 PM

Jeffrey D. Zients, the federal government's first chief performance officer and a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget, will lead President Obama's efforts to reorganize parts of the federal government.

Zients, who has spent the past two years working on cutting government contract spending, reforming the federal hiring process and making other operational cuts, will focus first on reorganizing how the federal government handles trade and export issues, the White House said Sunday.

He will be joined by White House staff secretary Lisa Brown, who led the Obama-Biden presidential transition's review of federal agency operations.

Obama called for a reorganization of federal agencies Tuesday during his State of the Union address, noting that about a dozen federal agencies handle export issues.

"We have a number of agencies right now that deal with exports and trade, and I think we're going to take a first look at those agencies who do work well together," White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley said Sunday.

"This government is structured basically mid-last century, not for the 21st century," Daley said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "There's enormous duplication, so I think you're going to see a very concerted effort by the president. No doubt about it, it's a major task."

Obama may make some changes to federal agency operations by executive order, but other changes will require congressional approval, OMB Director Jacob J. Lew told The Post on Friday.

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said Sunday that he remains somewhat skeptical of the plans.

"Changing boxes at the top isn't all that important," he said Sunday on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal." "Getting down to the real mechanics of government is important."

© 2011 The Washington Post Company