Recently, President Obama sent a memo to the heads of all executive branch agencies directing them to assist in the development of a plan to restructure and streamline the federal government. In keeping with that directive, Jeffrey Zients, federal chief performance officer and the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget will create a Government Reform for Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative that will start with a comprehensive review of the federal agencies and programs involved in trade and competitiveness,
Zients recently told the President's Export Council that trade and exports would be the first area of focus. Trade issues are currently handled by 12 different agencies, which lead to "fragmentation of roles and responsibilities. National Cotton Council Chairman Charles Parker cautions against making changes that would undermine the effectiveness of agencies including the Foreign Agricultural Service and the office of U.S. Trade Representative. Parker believes that if USTR were consolidated with an agency like the Export-Import Bank, it could increase bureaucracy and limit USTR's ability to operate efficiently.
"Agriculture's remarkable record in export markets is due in part to the professional staff of FAS who perform an outstanding job of gathering information and assisting U.S. exporters in successfully navigating complicated international markets," Parker said. "And, FAS also plays a key role in providing information to our negotiators at USTR."