Government Reorganization:

Observations About Creating a U.S. Trade Administration

T-GGD-95-234: Published: Sep 6, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1995.

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GAO discussed proposed legislation to create a U.S. Trade Administration (USTA) by merging the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with several Department of Commerce offices and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. GAO noted that: (1) creating a trade administration that lacks cabinet-level department status could lead to the perception that the new agency does not have the status of either USTR or the Department of Commerce; (2) the proposed legislation would combine the trade functions of only three U.S. government agencies and does not address opportunities for consolidating the functions of other U.S. government agencies that carry out significant trade responsibilities; (3) the proposed legislation appears to eliminate the U.S. Commercial Service's domestic network, thus eliminating the link between U.S. businesses and commercial offices overseas; and (4) the placement of the Bureau of Export Administration in the new entity would diminish the office's status relative to the Departments of Defense and State for purposes of interagency coordination of export control issues.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: There was legislation introduced in the 104th Congress related to executive reorganization of international trade functions but none was passed by the House or Senate. The 105th Congress has to date had less related legislation introduced and no hearings have been held. Instead Congress has focused attention on the organization of the State Department and related institutions.

    Matter: Congress may wish to explore additional opportunities for consolidation to reduce costs and to improve the formulation and implementation of U.S. government trade programs. As one approach to this end, Congress could task the President in legislation like H.R. 2124 to report to Congress within a specified deadline on what other possible opportunities exist for further consolidation that could improve program effectiveness and achieve budgetary savings.


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