Reorganization can help integrate, coordinate, or otherwise rationalize existing policy by bringing lower-level organizations together under a single head. That is clearly what Congress intended in creating the Department of Energy in 1977. Congress and the President both agreed that the nation would be better served with a single entity in charge of energy policy than a tangled web of diffuse, often competing agencies. That is also what Congress tried to accomplish in establishing the Department of Defense in 1947 and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958. It is useful to note that all three of these examples were in response to perceived threats: the Cold War and communism in 1947, fears of losing the space race in 1958, and the moral equivalent of war for energy independence in 1977.
Reorganization can provide a platform for a new or rapidly expanding governmental activity. That is what drove Congress to create the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1965. Although the federal government was involved in housing long before HUD, the new department was built as a base for what was anticipated to be a rapid rise in federal involvement. However, Congress did not place all housing programs within the new department.
Reorganization can help forge a strategic vision for governing. This is what Congress expected in creating the Department of Transportation in 1966. The federal government had been involved in building roads and bridges for almost 200 years when Congress created the department, but needed to coordinate its highway programs with its airports, airways, rail, and coastal programs. By pulling all modes of transportation under the same organization, Congress improved the odds that national transportation planning would be better served. Congress expected the same in not disapproving the reorganization plan that created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.
Reorganization can increase accountability to Congress, the President, and the public by making a department’s budget and personnel clearer to all, its presidential appointees subject to Senate confirmation, its spending subject to integrated oversight by Congress and its Office of Inspector General, and its vision plain to see. Although it is tempting to believe that such accountability is only a spreadsheet away, cabinet status conveys a megaphone that little else in Washington does. One should never