The White House recently released a proposal that would consolidate all federal food safety functions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Currently, the Food and Drug Administration with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are the two top federal food safety agencies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assists with foodborne outbreak investigations, but does not have responsibility for food safety rules or enforcement of them.

“To address this fragmented and illogical division of federal oversight, FSIS and the food safety functions of FDA would be consolidated into a single agency within USDA, called the Federal Food Safety Agency,” according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The proposal comes a year after President Trump signed  an executive order directing OMB to develop a plan to make the executive branch more efficient.

“We’re dealing with a government that is so byzantine you don’t know where to start,” said Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, as he unveiled to the administration, the results of a 14-month effort.  The report also states that federal food safety efforts are currently marketed by “inconsistent oversight, infective coordination and inefficient use of resources.”

Other recommendations in the 132-page plan include moving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to a new Bureau of Economic Growth within the Department of Commerce.  Merging the Departments of Education and Labor into a new single department called the Department of Education and the Workforce as well as a reconstituted Department of Health and Human Services, which would be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program would absorb portions of hazardous site cleanup programs run by Interior and Agriculture.  Other plan elements likely to draw opposition are familiar calls to privatize some government functions, including air traffic control and the U.S. Postal Service.

 “We all know that government needs to change,” OMB Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert said during a news briefing.  She called the proposal the start of a “national dialogue” in an acknowledgement that the White House cannot make many of the changes on its own.

Many key recommendations in the proposal would require approval from Congress.  From Herbert Hoover through Ronald Reagan, presidents had the power to reorganize the federal government, subject only to a veto by Congress.  But Congress killed that process during the Reagan Administration and instead put itself at the center of reorganization proposals for the past 30 years.