On March 11, 2011, President Obama issued a memorandum assigning a US Chief Performance Officer with the responsibility of leading an effort to create a plan for the restructuring and streamlining of certain federal government agencies. The US Office of Management and Budget’s Deputy Director for Management will serve in this role. The reform effort springs from the President’s January 25, 2011 State of the Union Address calling for increased competitiveness and innovation through government reform. This effort will focus first on the executive departments and agencies supporting trade, exports, and overall US competitiveness. A new Government Reform for Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative will review the federal agencies and programs involved in trade, exports, and competitiveness by analyzing their scope and effectiveness, areas of overlap and duplication, and cost. Although the memorandum does not specifically identify the agencies falling under this Initiative, they likely will include the Office of the US Trade Representative, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Department of Energy, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the US Trade and Development Agency, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The President’s memorandum requires consultation with the relevant leaders and staff of the departments and agencies, external organizations, and government reform experts on suggested improvements in effectiveness and efficiency. President Obama requested that the Chief Performance Officer submit recommendations within 90 days for presidential and congressional action to restructure and streamline federal government programs focused on trade and competitiveness. This schedule would call for the proposal by around mid-June. The President identified the following principles as guidance for the recommendations: (i) efficient and effective facilitation of US competitiveness; (ii) transparent, understandable, and easily accessible agency programs and requirements; and (iii) reduced inefficiencies and overlapping responsibilities or functions. US companies with international operations should carefully monitor such changes and their potential impact on business efficiencies.