Government Management:

Observations on the President's Proposed Freedom to Manage Act

GAO-02-241T: Published: Nov 13, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 2001.

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This testimony focuses on the proposed Freedom to Manage legislation. First, in view of changing priorities and the need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations, a comprehensive review, reassessment, and reprioritization of what government does and how it conducts business is clearly warranted. Second, the Freedom to Manage proposal was motivated, in part, by a desire to eliminate wasteful, redundant, and inefficient reporting and other mandates. GAO has previously recommended a comprehensive and government-wide review in this area. However, the Freedom to Manage Act is very broad and contains several provisions that would significantly limit traditional congressional debate and involvement. Although Congress has adopted "fast track" approaches for specific areas in the past, this proposal would alter Congress' relative influence in addressing a broad range of federal management issues. Essentially, the act would limit Congress' ability to garner valuable input through hearings and other means. By requiring an expedited vote on presidential proposals without amendments, the act would change the role of Congress in the legislative process. Given the need to position our government to address new challenges and heightened public expectations, both Congress and the Administration need to find ways to reach consensus on overarching national goals, but proposals for sweeping changes must be examined in terms of their effect on the balance of power between Congress and the President.

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