the WHITE HOUSEPresident Donald J. Trump

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

On-the-Record Press Briefing on a Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce

PRESS BRIEFING
BY OMB DIRECTOR MICK MULVANEY
ON A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR REFORMING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND 
REDUCING THE FEDERAL CIVILIAN WORKFORCE

James Brady S. Briefing Room

4:04 P.M. EDT

MR. SPICER:  As I mentioned earlier today, we're going to do a briefing on the record, off camera.  OMB Director Mulvaney is going to walk you through the guidance that has been issued to departments and agencies throughout the government following up on the President’s executive order with respect to reorganizing government.

He will walk through that, take your questions at the end.  There’s sort of a memo that he has provided to the different departments and agencies that we’ll give you guys a copy of at the end.  And then let us know if you have any further questions.

So without further ado, Director Mulvaney.

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Thanks, Sean.  Thank you all for coming out.  Here’s what’s getting ready to happen.  Tomorrow, in the morning, we will be releasing our guidance related to the executive order on the government restructuring.  Why should anybody care about that?  This marks a couple of different things.

First of all, it’s a major accomplishment for the administration in the first 100 days.  It’s something we said we were going to do on day one, and we’re following through well within the end of the 100-day period.  More immediately, perhaps, the government hiring freeze will end with the release of this guidance.  That does not mean -- and I’ve made this very clear to all of the agency heads, the deputy chiefs, et cetera, for the last couple of days -- that does not mean that the agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly.  

What we’re doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that we put into place on day one in office, and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan.  And what that means specifically is that, consistent with the President’s priorities in the budget, certain agencies will end up hiring more people.  Other agencies will end up paring their FTEs even greater than they would have had during the hiring freeze.

So we’re going from this sort of across-the-board hiring freeze.  That’s not unusual for any new management team to come in -- to put into place when they come into an organization, whether it’s the private sector or a government.  Not unusual for a new management team to come in and say, look, stop hiring, let us figure out what’s going on, we’ll get acclimated and then we’ll put into place something that’s more practicable and smarter.  And that’s what this is.  So you’ll see this across-the-board ban tomorrow, and replaced with a smarter approach. 

To the larger issue, the government reorg is probably the biggest story that nobody is talking about.  Yes, we talk about healthcare; yes, we talk about taxes; yes, we talk about infrastructure -- and all of those are extraordinarily critical to rebuilding the country, making America great again, as the President has said.  This is something that goes much deeper and to the very structure of government.  

This is trying to do something that has never been done before.  The executive branch of government has never been rebuilt.  It has grown organically over the course of the last 240 years, and the President of the United States has asked all of us in the executive branch to start from scratch, a literal blank piece of paper and say, if you’re going to rebuild the executive branch, what would it look like.

One of the things we’re doing for the first time ever, we think, is soliciting a lot of input from outside.  You go to the website, the WhiteHouse.gov website and see a -- what I’m told is not a completely terrible -- I thought it was awful -- video that I made on there, soliciting input from individuals -- like to say, look, if you’ve had a contact with a federal government that you think could go better, tell us about it.  If you’re an academic and you’ve got an idea on how to fix the government, tell us how to do it, give us the ideas.  So we’ve got a website set up for that.

We met this morning with CEOs from all across the nation and said, look, we’re trying to do something that’s never been done, we’re trying to rebuild the executive branch of government, give us some ideas.  By the way, they did.  And one of the ideas I took away from that meeting this morning was a suggestion from the group of business leaders that says, look, why don’t you restructure the government in terms of the functions that it performs.  Instead of following some organically created guidelines over the course of the last two centuries or instead of following the 12 appropriations committees on the Hill, go and look at the functions.  

Does the government want to be in the business of trade?  Okay, then let’s go find all of the functions of government that deal with trade and put it in one place.  The best example I can think of is workforce training, and the number I have -- always stuck in my head -- is we have 43 different workforce training programs spread across at least 13 different agencies.  

Now, there’s a rule in the private sector which is that if everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible.  And that’s what we face right now all too often in the executive branch.  If the President, for example, wants to know why the federal government workforce training programs aren’t functioning as best as they possibly can, there’s no one person he can turn to and say, why is that, and shouldn’t we be able to fix that.  And that’s one of the things that we’ll be looking for.

We think at the end of the day this leads to a government that is dramatically more accountable, dramatically more efficient, and dramatically more effective, following through on the very promises the President made during the campaign and that he put into place on day one.

The schedule, by the way, is that the agencies now have I think until -- is it September?  June?  

AIDE:  June preliminary, September final.

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  So June they’ll come back with -- we’ve gone out to the agencies with this and say, why don’t you, by the way, you give you your ideas on how you can improve your agency.  If you’ve always had an idea why NASA should be in the Department of Agriculture, now is your time to speak up.  Okay, this is a blank piece of paper, and we ask all the agencies to come back to us.  So between June and September, we’ll be collecting that data from the agencies.  And then, in September, we’ll be starting to go back to the President and say, look, here are some of the ideas with a goal towards putting these things into place roughly 11 months from today.

And with that, I’d be happy to take any questions.  Yes.

AIDE:  I just want to remind everyone that this is embargoed until 11 p.m.  Folks that are on the phone and in the other room, this is on the record, of course, but --

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Embargoed until 11:00 tonight, right?  Thank you.  Yes, ma’am.

Q    You made some comments yourself -- you mentioned the jurisdictional challenges.  What is the President hoping to propose in the way of legislative changes to Congress?  Because the statutory constrictions are considerable for any President, whether it’s this one or his predecessors, to make these change.

And then the second thing is, is any of this going to be built into the budget?  Would you make a proposal based on the budget description of what the President would envision?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Yeah, to the second question first -- yes, this will -- what grows out of this will be hardwired into the 2019 budget, which begins in September.  One of the reasons those dates need to sync up is that when the agencies come back to us, when we’re sort of halfway through this process, we have the first ideas, you will start to see those filter through to our 2019 budget.  Believe it or not, the fiscal year 2019 budget really begins in earnest September of 2017.  So "yes" is the second answer to your question.

Regarding statutory versus executive authority, it’s an excellent question, and one of the reasons that this is so difficult to do is that you just can’t wave a magic wand in the Oval Office and do these things.  There will be certain things for which we will need the legislative authority.  We don’t know what those are yet because we don’t know what the final plan looks like, but certainly we’re hopeful to be able to have congressional buy-in to try and get some of this accomplished.

Q    And can I just add:  What makes you optimistic that lawmakers, who obviously are used to and proceed in their jurisdictions, get with their constituents?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Yeah, well, a couple different things.  I think they probably are as interested -- they’re frustrated as everybody else is, as every other citizen is, as to how poorly the federal government can function, how inefficient it is.  They probably have as much interest in finding the savings that may come from some of this as any other citizen is.

And at the end of the day, we’re really not taking away any of their jurisdictional authority.  We may be restructuring it.  We may be saying, look, there’s certain things we don’t think the federal executive branch needs to do.  But we’re not going to them and saying, Congress can’t do this anymore.  So I don’t think we’ll be stepping on any toes.  

And I also think it’s important to note that this is really the first administration that has made this a priority in a really, really long time.  I know that President Clinton may have tried, and President Reagan may have tried, but this is -- again, as evidenced by the fact that we did this on day one -- clearly a priority of this administration, and we hope Congress will get that message as well.

Yes, ma’am.

Q    Just three quick questions for you.  Can you get specific on -- you talk about agencies affected with the hiring freeze getting un-instated as you put in this more surgical plan.  What agencies do you foresee having the most job cuts now or job additions, as you discussed, sort of how that is restructured?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Sure.  And again, you could just sort of go line by line in the budget.  So I’ll give you one of each, which is I think everybody acknowledges, given the proposed reductions to the Environmental Protection Agency in the budget, they would have to reduce the size of their workforce, and it’s up to them to sort of come up with ideas on how to do that and effectively put the President’s priorities into play.  At the other end of spectrum, clearly you would expect the DOD and probably the Veterans Administration to get larger.

Q    I want to follow up on Alexis’s question.  Who are your partners in Congress?  Who have you identified that you’re working with right now on the other side?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Everybody, at this point.

Q    Is there anybody specifically that you are in discussions with now?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  We have been talking to appropriators, but that’s been part of the 2017 -- so they know this is coming.  But we have not sat down and said, look, this is what we want to do because we don’t know what we want to do yet.  So it’s sort of hard to go to Congress and say, do this, we need to restructure -- we want you to consider restructuring this piece of legislation, this piece of authorizing legislation that says -- there’s probably statute.  

I’ll give an example.  Please -- and this is an example.  This is not a pre-cooked notion, all right?  But we’re fairly certain there’s a statute that requires the NNSA, which deals with the nuclear weapons, to put that in the Department of Energy, okay?  We may decide -- and emphasis on “may” -- decide, look, does that really make sense anymore?  We know why it happened in the '40s and the '50s, but today, would it make sense, maybe, to have that in the Department of Defense?  That would take some type of congressional authority to do that.  We’re not trying to ram it down their throats.  We try and sell it to them just like we’re trying to sell it to everybody else.

Q    You’ve mentioned President Reagan, President Clinton -- they tried and failed to do what you are trying to do.  Why should this administration think they’re going to have a different outcome?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Let me try and give a serious answer to that question.  This is really important to the President.  And I wasn’t around the Clinton administration, I don’t remember the Reagan administration, but I can tell you that this is a big part of draining the swamp.  We focus on things like getting lobbyists out of the process, and the five-year ban, and all that.  And that’s certainly part of the draining the swamp.  But really what you’re talking about doing is restructuring Washington, D.C., and that is how you drain the swamp.

So the President uses different words.  He doesn't use the words "restructuring government," "reorganizing government."  He uses the words “drain the swamp.”  But that's what this is.  So this is a centerpiece of his campaign and a centerpiece of his administration. 

Yes, ma’am.

Q    Thank you so much.  Could you tell me your views on this part of this government reorganization, if you think we need fewer regional offices across the United States?  And could you comment -- and I believe there is actually a plan being discussed in the background to reduce the number of EPA offices around the country.  So maybe this is part of a bigger process to reduce all the regions?  Or is this just for the EPA?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I’m not dodging your question, but I’m going to tell you that it depends.  There may be certain agencies that come back to us and say, you know what, we need fewer regional offices because we think our services can be provided more effectively by having fewer but larger offices.  At the same time, there may be more -- there may be other agencies that come back to us and say, look, we’ll really be more efficient if we have smaller offices spread -- because the way we provide services, we need to be closer to those places, so we need more but smaller offices.   So it’s hard to pain with a broad brush.

Q    So can we just focus maybe on the EPA since that's the one going -- to undergo probably the biggest reduction in personnel?  I have been informed that there actually is discussion on this point.  If you could comment on it --

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I can't because I -- 

Q    -- that that is one place where the reductions -- 

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I can't because I don't have that information.  So again, it will be up to Mr. Pruitt to come up -- Secretary Pruitt -- administrator?  Administrator Pruitt to come back with certain ideas and so forth. 

Q    Do you have a ballpark, at least, on total number of jobs that will be cut, total number of jobs that will be added?  And then whether there will be a net reduction or a net increase in the federal workforce?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I don't know the answer to the first two questions in terms of the total up and the total down.  But I think it probably goes without saying that, net, we think we can run the government more efficiently than the previous administration can, and we think we can run the government with fewer people than the previous administration had.

Q    Can you give me any sense of the scale of net?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  No.

Q    Okay.

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Sorry.  

Yes, ma’am.

Q    Okay, and then just to follow up on Hallie’s question.  Is there anything that’s in tomorrow -- aside from the budget blueprint with specific agencies, specifically saying, we want you to hire X many people or reduce this many people?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Yes, what kicks in tomorrow is what we call the smart hiring plan, okay?  Right now if you are the Department of Energy, you haven’t been able to hire anybody because of the freeze that we put in place on day one.  As soon as the guidance goes out -- stop me if I’m wrong on this -- but as soon as the guidance goes out, what we expect the Department of Energy to do -- along with all the other agencies -- is look at that guidance and say, okay, here are the President’s priorities as contained in the budget; it seems like the President wants us to beef up this particular operation at the Department of Energy and reduce our emphasis on this particular department -- or organization within the Department of Energy.  So they would hire more over here and fewer over here.  

So what the guidance really does is tell them, look to the budget blueprint and fashion your hiring and the paring down of your workforce consistent with the budget.

Q    Does the guidance include specific numbers, though, saying, we don’t want X many or --

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  No.

Q    Hi, thank you very much.  Two quick things.  Could you talk a little bit about the mechanism to do this?  In others words, are you talking -- it seems like the budget cuts that have been outlined -- the President and many agencies, not just the EPA -- would involve reduction in forces.  This is a long, drawn-out process.  There’s also buyouts, there’s also early retirement.  Could you talk a little more in depth than you have about how you expect that to happen?  Because you can’t just get rid of federal employees all that easily.

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Right.  And I think it’s going to -- again, I don’t want to look like I’m dodging the question, but you’ve asked a very broad question across a very large organization.  So the answer is going to be, really, it varies.  There are going to be some places where they have the ability to reduce size immediately and they may be called upon to do that in order to line up with the President’s priorities.  There may be other places where they don’t have that flexibility, and they’ll have to figure out a way over the course of time to, through ordinary attrition, to get to where they need to be.

There may be places where it’s harder for them to ramp up.  One of the things we don’t talk about very often is it’s fairly hard for some parts of the federal government to hire a bunch of people in a short period of time.  You can’t wave a magic wand and add a thousand people, for example.

So again, I’m not trying to dodge your question, but there is no one answer to that question because you’re dealing with such a large agency.  Do you have a follow-up on that?  Yes, ma’am.

Q    I did.  The follow-up was this:  So Congress has indicated that it is very likely to restore a lot of the cuts, particularly at the State Department, that the President’s "skinny budget" has outlined.  So if that happens, does the administration intend to continue to pursue these reductions in both the workforce and programs?  And would the administration decide that it wanted to take reductions to certain programs and certain agencies that Congress had actually restored?  

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  That’s an excellent question.  And the President’s priorities are the President’s priorities.  Congress’ priorities may be a little different.  Any of you who follow the appropriations process understand there are certain things that Congress can actually make us do.  And we’ll follow the law when it comes to that.  To the extent we have discretion under the law, then the discretion will be exercised in the method best possible to effectuate the President’s policies.  

Q    Two questions.  So will agencies need to get approval from OMB or someone when they’re hiring?  Or will they just be trusted to just follow the guidance?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  The latter.   What happens is -- essentially what we’re doing is saying, look, here is the rules, we expect all -- and they know this.  The agencies -- every administration does this.  They'll give guidance -- OMB gives guidance on a bunch of different things.

So this is not like we’re plowing new ground here or making up stuff as we go along.  We’ll give them guidance and say, here’s the guidance on how to do your hiring and where the priorities lie consistent with the budget.  And over the course of the year and so forth we’ll check up with them to make sure they’re doing that.

If, for example, six months you get into it and an agency that we wanted to plus up hasn’t, that we want to know why that is.  Because it would look, at least on its face, like they’re not prioritizing the President’s policies.  So we would do that on an ongoing basis.  

But no, it would be absurd to think that they all have to call OMB before they hire somebody, and that’s not how it’s going to work.

Q    And another question -- just one more question.  Do you ultimately envision that maybe a whole department may, under this reorganization, may need to be closed?  There’s been talk over the years of, like, shutting down Commerce, moving their facets other places.  I mean, is there any vision in this action --

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I got asked that question this morning by the CEOs and I’ll give you the same answer I gave them, which is -- it’s sort of a knee-jerk, conservative Republican answer to say there will be fewer agencies.  But you could probably make the argument that there might be efficiencies in having more but smaller.  And that’s what this is really all about.

We are not going into this with some ideological preconception about what this is going to look like.  This is really a blank sheet of paper, and we are not just asking conservative, right-wing think-tanks to give us ideas on how to fix this.  We’re asking the general public -- intellectuals, academia, and the private sector -- to give us ideas.  And it may well be that they come in and make a very good case for the exact opposite of what might be the preconceived notion of a former right-wing member of Congress.

Yes, sir, there.  And then in the middle.

Q    Thank you very much.  The President’s key strategist has used the term the “deconstruction of the administrative state” as a major goal of the administration, and you just used the phrase “draining the swamp” that the President famously used during the campaign.  But it sounds like you’re drawing a distinction between -- based on your answer just now -- between that which seems to be an overarching goal of the administration, and this reorganization.  So is this a reorganization with the goal of making the executive branch function better?  Or is this executing the larger goal of deconstructing the administrative state and returning government to what some would say is a pre-New Deal, laissez faire --

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Let me answer it this way, because I don’t see the equivalence between those two things.  But let me put it to you this way:  This is about good government.  It’s not about big government, it’s not about small government -- it’s about good government.  And that is what I think the President talks about when he talks about “draining the swamp.”  

People back home look at Washington, D.C. and if you’re on the left, the right, the middle, they don’t know where they are philosophically, they know that Washington doesn’t function well.  And what the businessman-in-chief has essentially come to us and said, look, make sure this government functions properly.  That means it’s going to more efficient, more accountable, more effective at providing the services that we need.

This is not talking about shrinking the government down to the very smallest denominator.  It’s not talking about growing the government.  This is something that we would hope would unite Republicans and Democrats.

I remember talking to Peter Welch, a friend of mine who is sort of left-of-center -- that’s being very courteous to my friend, for those of you who know him -- a Democrat from Vermont, when we worked on a bill together, about saving money in federal buildings.  And I just met Peter -- this is going back five or six years -- and I said, Peter, why are you doing this?  He says, we’ll I’m a left-wing tree-hugger; I can’t stand when we waste money on energy.  And I’m like, well, I’m a right-wing fiscal conservative, I can’t stand when we waste money on anything at all.  And that’s when we realized that we might think differently about the role of government, but everybody dislikes bad government, and that’s in large part the government we have now.  And that’s what we’re trying to fix.

Q    So reorganization, not deconstruction.

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I’m sorry?

Q    So reorganization, not deconstruction.

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  The executive order -- is it reorganizing government or restructuring government?

AIDE:  Restructuring.  

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Restructuring government.  

Yes, sir.

Q    Having been in Congress, did you study the Obama proposals put forward in 2012 and ’14 to reorganize the government, particularly around the department of business or trade?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I did not, I’m sorry.  

In the back -- yes, sir.  

Q    Thank you, Director.  Can you talk about what happens in September --

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Little slow on the pickup.  You could have had that one.  (Laughter.)  

Q    I wanted to make sure it was me, not --

Q    I get a lot of practice with Sean.  (Laughter.)  Can you talk about September and what happens there?  Are you looking to prepare a report?  When can the American people expect to see the results of the findings over the summer actually come to --

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Two answers to the question.  You’ll see hints of it in the 2019 budget.  Now, of course, we won’t be talking about that until probably the first of next year.  But as I mentioned before, the ideas that we collect between now and September will start to filter their way into the 2019 budget.  The deadline in the executive order, I believe, is March 13th of 2018.  It’s a year from whenever he signed.  We're about a month -- so it’s 11 months from now.  So by the 1st of next year, so before the President’s first anniversary, you’ll start to see real tangible ideas that have grown out of this executive order. 

Now, the gentleman.  Yes, sir.

Q    Thank you.  Employee morale is a big issue when you start talking about moving people and changing jobs. How are you addressing that?  Because I think what’s going to happen is employees are going to get depressed.  They're going to get -- 

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  They shouldn’t be.  And it’s an excellent question.  And here’s one of the things we've found so far, which is that one of the frustrations that government workers have is that we don't reward those who do a really good job, and we don't punish those who do a lousy job.  

And so here you've got -- imagine, would you like working in an organization where you do a really nice job and you don't get rewarded for it?  You don't even get acknowledged for that?  What kind of moral would that create within that particular organization?  

That is one of the things we've asked the agencies to look at:  How do you restructure your personnel policies in order to point out people who are doing a great job and figuring out a way to get folks who are not delivering money for the taxpayer, get them on board with whatever it is -- whatever policy you're trying to achieve.  So that is a big part of what we're doing because we recognize exactly what you said.

I think it’s wrong to sort of paint with a broad brush and say, because we are going to be reducing the overall size of government as part of this, as consistent with our budget, that that means that everybody should just focus on who is getting fired.  That's the wrong message to take from this.  The right message is we're trying to figure out a way to make the government more responsive and more accountable, and that means taking care of the people who are doing a good job.

And I hope that folks recognize the message that the President tried to send when he instructed through OMB that all the agencies give the full -- what is it 1.9 percent increase this year?  I’m looking on -- is it 1.9 percent or 2.1 percent?  The 1.9 percent increase.  

The President wants to reward good employees.  He’s famous for doing that.  Go down to the Trump Hotel and ask the people who used to work for him when he was in the private sector.  He’s a great boss to work for, and he wants to reward people who do a good job.  And you will see that reflected in this document.  

Q    You said something earlier about -- this a story that's gone unreported, the story -- (inaudible) -- in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County that's all they're talking about.  They're afraid your budget and these plans are going to destroy the economy in the two counties that are adjacent to the capital.  Can you at least speak to the fact that there are millions of people that work in the government there and are scared to death their economy is going to be destroyed by your plans?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  A couple different things.  I got asked that question before, and I didn't mean for it to -- in the press conference we did on the budget.  We didn't write the budget -- or excuse me, we didn't come up with this guidance with an eye towards taking care of any particular special interest group.

And to a certain extent, folks who live here and are worried about the value of their condominiums or their homes need to recognize that there’s bigger issues at play.  Fixing the government is more important than any particular sub-group’s interest.

That's not to be heartless about those folks.  These are people’s jobs.  We get that, and we recognize the fact there will be people here looking at this going, oh, my goodness, I work at an agency that may be downsized.  That is real.  

By the way, that's the same thing that every one of you has been through in the last couple of years.  You all are the last remaining people who actually work in journalism, right?  So your entities have gone through this.  It shouldn’t be anything new, and it’s nothing to be afraid of.  It’s part of what working in a free economy entails.

That being said to the folks who do work here, recognize the response I just gave to the gentleman in the back.  If you're a really good federal worker, you should welcome this because now you're finally going to get a chance to be rewarded for your contributions.

Q    But follow-up, if I could?  If you could clarify something you said when you were out here before about your budget and the afterschool programs.  Some of them -- I know -- but it’s come back.  The chickens have come home to roost saying that you basically don't care about poor people, that you're like the Soup Nazi.  You didn't do good in school, so no soup for you.  Can you address that?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Let me address it this way.  Is The Washington Post here, by the way?  Thank you.  You all actually did a correction, which is the first time they've ever done that about -- yes, I know.  I was stunned too when I saw it.

Q    You know what the story was -- 

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  That was your stunned face.  (Laughter.)  But I didn't say we were cutting Meals on Wheels or that we thought Meals on Wheels -- 

Q    (Inaudible.)

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I understand that.  But I want to speak to the larger topic, which is that we are looking at the effectiveness of programs.  That's our responsibility.  We have a responsibility to the people who are receiving government services to give them the best possible services that we can.  We also have a responsibility to the people who are paying for those government services -- the taxpayers, okay?  And whoever you voted for, we care about the fact that if you get services, you pay services.  We care about everybody.  We're the only people elected nationwide.  Everybody else has their constituencies back home.  The President represents everybody, including folks who don’t vote for him.  And what we have to do is look at those programs and say, is this a good value for the taxpayer?  

I won’t speak to the specifics of the afterschool lunch because there’s more than one, and we could talk more about that as we get into the full budget in May.  But the answer is still the same, which is that this administration is looking at all sides of the equation as we try to deliver a better value for everybody involved.

Q    You talked about good government and bad government.  But what you think is bad government, Pete Welch probably disagrees with you on.  So what Democrats have you worked with in Congress about the restructuring?  I mean, have you worked with Democrats?  And which ones?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Well, go back to use Peter Welch as an example, which is that Peter Welch would agree that leaving the lights on at a federal building overnight with nobody there is bad government.  So why spend our --

Q    But -- 

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  You asked the question, let me answer it.  So why spend our time talking about things we disagree on, when we can actually spend time on things we agree on?  And we hope that, as we go through this process, some of these ideas might actually resonate with some of our Democrat friends.  

We have not started specific reach-out yet to members of either party in the House or the Senate because we don’t know what to take them.  We’re not saying, look, this is our new idea for the Department of Commerce -- can you get behind this?  What we’ll start to do now, with the guidance that goes out tomorrow, is go to our friends on the Hill and say, look, what are your ideas, Peter, on how to fix this?  Because he’s going to have some, there’s no question.  

I remember doing -- oh, was it Cheri Bustos?  I think I started -- I finished with Cheri Bustos and we started with Patrick Murphy in Florida on the improper payments.  All right?  Improper payments -- bad government.  All right?  Wasting money -- giving money to people who don’t deserve it, is something that Republicans and Democrats alike don’t care for and want to fix.  That lies at the very heart of what we’re trying to do.  We’re trying to get good government through this.  And so we do hope to have Democrat support for many of these ideas.

Q    Just to follow up on that, are you concerned, without actual legislation that changes the scope and size of government, that this can just be written over when the next Democratic President comes in?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Sure.  To the extent that we only do stuff within the executive branch -- as with any executive orders -- they can be overturned by the next administration if they see things differently.  That’s the way the executive order system works.  And that if we wanted real permanent change, the best way to go about that would be to do legislative change.

But I’ll close with this:  Don’t discount the power of inertia because what we’re battling against right now, which is the inertia of 240 years of federal government weighing down on this ability to try and change government, starts to work to your advantage once you change it, because then it becomes very hard to change again.  So even if there are things we can’t get done legislatively, there are things we might be able to get done in an executive fashion that could have long-lasting impacts.

Thank you all very much.

END 
4:34 P.M. EDT