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Special Message to the Congress Requesting New Authority To Reorganize the Executive Branch

January 30, 1969

To the Congress of the United States:

New times call for new ideas and fresh approaches. To meet the needs of today and tomorrow, and to achieve a new level of efficiency, the Executive Branch requires flexibility in its organization.

Government organization is created to serve, not to exist; as functions change, the organization must be ready to adapt itself to those changes.

Ever since the Economy Act of 1932, the Congress has recognized the need of the president to modernize the Federal Government continually. During most of that time, the Congress has provided the president the authority to reorganize the Executive Branch.

The current reorganization statute-Chapter 9 of Title 5 of the United States Code--is derived from the Reorganization Act of 1949. That law places upon the President a permanent responsibility "from time to time to examine the organization of all agencies" and "to determine what changes therein are necessary" to accomplish the purposes of the statute. Those purposes include promoting the better execution of the laws, cutting expenditures, increasing efficiency in Government operations, abolishing unnecessary agencies and eliminating duplication of effort. The law also authorizes the President to transmit reorganization plans to the Congress to make the changes he considers necessary.

Unfortunately, the authority to transmit such plans expired on December 31, 1968. The President cannot, therefore, now fulfill his reorganization responsibilities. He is severely limited in his ability to organize and manage the Executive Branch in a manner responsive to new needs.

I, therefore, urge that the Congress promptly enact legislation to extend for at least two years the President's authority to transmit reorganization plans.

This time-tested reorganization procedure is not only a means for curtailing ineffective and uneconomical Government operations, but it also provides a climate that enables good managers to manage well.

Under the procedure, reorganization plans are sent to the Congress by the President and generally take effect after 60 days unless either House passes a resolution of disapproval during that time. In this way the President may initiate improvements, and the Congress retains the power of review.

This cooperative executive-legislative approach to reorganization has shown itself to be sensible and effective for more than three decades, regardless of party alignments. It is more efficient than the alternative of passing specific legislation to achieve each organizational change. The cooperative approach is tested; it is responsive; it works.

Reorganization authority is the tool a President needs to shape his Administration to meet the new needs of the times, and I urgently request its extension.


The White House

January 30, 1969

Richard Nixon, Special Message to the Congress Requesting New Authority To Reorganize the Executive Branch Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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