Fixing the Beuro-crazy (Part 3 of 4)
- No single Department oversees all of the resources owned and/or managed by the Federal Government.
- Commerce and Labor cannot be separate ideas as they are too intertwined and need tensions resolved regularly.
- The United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not have a Department focused on Arts, Sports, and Culture despite those being major components of the American experience.
Fixing the Beuro-crazy (Part 1 of 4)
If sharing is caring, why doesn’t the government do it?
Fixing the Beuro-crazy (Part 2 of 4)
Getting a seat at the table for People, States, Science, and the Post Office!
Department of Resource and Asset Management
That is not to say that competing priorities cannot meet at the top level. Where a Department focused in on the optimal needs of science is helpful, so, too, is the practical side of implementing and managing the resources science intends to use and/or protect. That is where the Department of Resource and Asset Management comes into play. In the day-to-day world, there are natural resources that are harvested for use by the people, organizations, and governments of the country and these all need to be managed. Meanwhile, the government owns and leases plenty of buildings and pieces of land that also need to be worked on and maintained. This is the pragmatic side of dealing with the minutia of what it takes to oversee these disparate components.
There are also functions that are currently a part of every agency that would have to be split out. First is Capital Planning, which is about doing big projects that cost a lot of money (think building that new apartment complex for Congress). Capital costs are one-time (though maintenance and upkeep are not, but more on that later), and being finite are usually from special funds that need to be managed. Expenses are generally broken into two large buckets: Capital for the non-normal activity and operations for the day-to-day expenses. Most everything else is day-to-day, but these programs stand out.
And on the other end would be “Transparency”. Each agency of the government is responsible right now for publishing its own materials and making available requests from the Freedom of Information Act. The idea is that all of that would be brought under one department/agency that would provide the insights into how the government is operating. Theoretically, this Department should be managing all the records of the government, and therefore can provide the data and the public portals for the people.
Department of Commerce and Labor
The two existing Departments of Commerce and Department of Labor are in bubbles that are both quite limited and inconsiderate of the larger picture. Commerce focusses in on creating economic opportunity while Labor looks at some (but not all) of the concerns of wage workers. Meanwhile, there are a plethora of Agencies that are independent or parts of other Departments that deal with all the regulations and management of industries and workers. Instead, this Department is a way to bring that all under one house with both Commerce and Labor having three sub-areas:
- Protections and Regulations — Making sure companies are doing what they are supposed to by the laws and regulations of the United States, both specific to how companies are intended to function by factors such as financial controls, the environment, etcetera and in their treatment of workers.
- Development — Using programs to create opportunities for economic growth for community organizations, companies, and workers’ skillsets.
- Insurance — Similar to Protections and Regulations, the government has a numerous insurance and safety net programs that are specific to protecting companies and workers.
Beyond these key areas, there are also Consumer protections to be considered, along with Economic Research to provide the arguments when necessary. Combining these elements brings together the full macro-economic view of the country along with the micro of how to implement the programs the government has deemed necessary for the safety of people and the development of markets.
One could argue that putting the people in charge of economic development in charge of all that regulation is a conflict of interest, and that is correct. However, this conflict is going to happen at some level, so the idea is that it should be happening within the Department. Additionally, the regulations in this Department are generally not generated internally, but instead come from Congress or other Departments (more on this later), so basically Commerce and Labor must enforce all protections and the buck stops there; it would not be spread around everywhere. Then, when working on analysis or attempting to create opportunity, they should be well aware of the considerations already in place and make recommendations for changes one way or another — but not be able to make those changes themselves.
Department of Arts, Sports, and Culture
Despite having several agencies focused solely on various sub-components of security, the United States currently completely lacks a representative for Arts, Sports, and Culture. This is not because the United States does not spend money on these — far from it — but because the United States has never decided it is a top priority despite the billions of dollars people spend in and on these industries and the equal amount of income created for the government in taxes. The expression of culture has been recognized around the world as a core competency, yet the United States has never placed an emphasis on it for important decision making. As a matter of fact, Team U.S.A. posts on their donor website:
The US Olympic Committee, unlike its competitors around the world, does not receive funding from the federal government for its Olympic programs. Instead, Team USA. athletes rely on the generosity of the American people to achieve their dreams.
In a country with so much emphasis on sports, there really is no agency in existence that specifically works on athletic concerns (and very limited ones on the Arts, but at least there is something). At the same time, there are any number of laws for how sports are supposed to be regulated and funding comes in one form or another from the Federal Government to sports organizations. Yet, who is looking in on these deals and coordinating with local governments? The answer is: it is all over the place and depends upon each deal while there is no accountability.
This Department is the sparsest of the new structure simply because it needs the most filled in. While it is rare that this author would recommend a growth in the size and scope of the Federal Government, there are notable gaping holes in how the Executive Branch deals with the management of culture in the United States.
As an added bonus to this Department are two key areas: Protecting Creations and Archives. If we are talking about creations (whether arts, technology, or amalgamations of both), there should be more than some disparate agencies that care about these. We will be returning to protections of creations much later in this document, but how copyright functions and how trademarks works is an area of great debate among those who are directly impacted.
On the other end is managing the history of our nation — both the creations that are made and the important documents that preserve the story of America. The creation of the Constitution and Law is a significant portion of our culture and as such should have an important say in what is to come and how the government functions. After all, someone must record it all and make sure history is true, not just a perspective. How can one learn from history if there is no one to preserve and teach it?
Department of Freedom, Law, and Justice
The Department of Justice that exists today is an odd bag in that it contains policing duties in areas like the FBI and DEA, executive duties by representing the United States in courts, judiciary duties in quasi-courts of appeal, and a smattering of other odds and ends. As seen in previous sections, anything having to deal with investigation, policing, and security would be moved into the Department of Safety and Security, so where does that leave this newly reformed Department? Well, that is where the name change comes into place as this Department is about law services.
Overall, there would be a few big buckets:
- Civil protections for the people of the United States
- Litigative services for the government
- Litigative services working with companies and other organizations
- Dealing with foreign law
- Quasi-judiciary agencies
This structure makes the Department not about searching for crime, but about being the interpretation of the law of the land — at least as far as the Executive Branch understands it. Now, there is a Constitutional argument whether these quasi-judiciary agencies have a Constitutional right to exist at all (separation of powers and all), but that is not the argument for this section (wait a few minutes more for that one). Right now, we are focused on how to even look and talk about the government. If they are all together, now the argument can be made as to what exactly the agencies in this pool are doing.
Department of Fiscal Management
The last of the full Departments, then, is the Department of Fiscal Management — which would be responsible for how the United States deals with its money. Right now, the Treasury is a stand-alone area, but what we have in the bank is hardly the story of how funding flows within the Great Material Continuum. That is why Fiscal Management would be broken up into specific buckets:
- Financial Oversight — Understanding how changes to spending will impact a particular area and estimating the long-term consequences of those decisions.
- Taxes and Revenue Collection — How the government gets money.
- Treasury — How much money is on hand and how much is expected to be on hand.
- Debt — Both taking out loans and managing existing ones.
- Investment and Equities — Managing the various ventures the government makes with available funds.
- Central Banking — How the government controls the liquidity of money available in the market for people and businesses.
- Minting Money — Coins and bills need to be made sometimes!
- Scholarship/Fund Management — The United States has created many pools of funds that people and organizations can apply for, but there is no central administration of that right now.
What this all comes down to is the single question: how is the money managed?
It must be remembered that this is about organization, not control. For example, despite potentially putting the Federal Reserve System underneath this Department, it would not necessarily mean that the agency could not still run independently and away from Secretarial and Presidential influences (or political influences in general). Instead, it is a way to see and understand the government, and in this case about how money policy is controlled within a reporting structure.
TO BE CONTINUED…