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Here’s how the proposed reorganization of the federal government could impact science and tech

June 21, 2018

The Trump administration announced a proposal to revamp, retool, and reorganize America’s federal government.   

What's new: There are a slew of massive changes, but here are some of the pieces that would most likely affect science and technology if they went through.

  • - The Departments of Labor and Education would be consolidated into a single “Department of Education and the Workforce.” The report says the intent of this change is to help schools better prepare students for careers. It’s unclear at this point if this means a stronger focus on STEM education and better training for technology-based roles.
  • - Applied energy programs within the Department of Energy would be consolidated into the “Office of Energy Innovation” instead of organized by the type of energy they use (e.g., fossil, renewable, or nuclear). The report says the intent is to “maximize the benefits of energy research and development and to enable quicker adaptation to the Nation’s changing energy technology needs.”
  • - The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the food safety functions of HHS’s Food and Drug Administration would be reorganized into a single agency within USDA.
  • - The report states that the government wants to “solve the federal cybersecurity workforce shortage by establishing a unified cyber workforce capability across the civilian enterprise, working through DHS and OMB in coordination with all Federal departments and agencies.” Basically, this means an across-the-board focus on closing the cybersecurity talent gap.
  • - The National Science Foundation would take on the administration of graduate fellowships from disparate federal agencies “in order to reduce the total cost of administering those fellowships.”

What’s next: The proposed changes are likely to face major pushback from Congress. Some nontechnical elements, like the privatization of the Postal Service, are already controversial, and others could lessen the power held by members of congress on certain committees. Reorganizing a government is a lot more complicated than reorganizing a business, and it’s likely this reorg proposal will go through various amendments and adjustments before it's enacted—assuming it’s ever voted on at all. 

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