This week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examined the Trump Administration’s government-wide reorganization plan and shared thoughts and ideas about the proposals, which included infrastructure-related issues. The proposal is still in its early stages and will require congressional approval for any changes to occur. Margaret Weichert, Deputy Director for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), spoke on behalf of the Administration. She presented a notable change for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), proposing a reduced number of missions within the USACE Civil Works program, which include transferring the navigation activities to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), while the remaining activities, including flood and storm damage reduction, aquatic ecosystem restoration, hydropower, and regulatory to the U.S. Department of the Interior. These changes will not affect the USACE’s defense mission but will break up existing issues with bureaucratic red tape within the civilian sector.
Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) expressed concerns about the permitting process facing the infrastructure industry. Palmer gave multiple examples of delayed permitting costing millions of dollars, saying “We’re literally throwing our infrastructure dollars down the drain with these infrastructure delays.” Weichert responded by emphasizing how this proposal attempts to reduce regulatory burden and increase economic output. According to Weichert, this proposal will increase intra-agency communication and consolidate overlapping agencies. By doing so, Weichert believes the permitting process will become more efficient and less time-consuming.
While the committee mentioned the changes proposed to the USACE, no Members asked questions about how those changes would be enacted. Throughout the course of the hearing, the committee focused on different details of the bill, including air traffic control privatization and moving airport security from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to the USDOT. Additionally, many members of the committee agreed that there is room for improving government organization.
Finally, this proposal is in its early stages. The changes proposed require the approval of Congress to become a law.