A hot topic nowadays is "downsizing" government to reduce spending but much of the hype and many of the proposals would do little to actually save money or increase the ability of agencies to provide services. I've been working on a list of better solutions to eliminate unneeded spending by making government agencies more efficient so they can continue to provide services without the cost of duplication and bloated management positions across multiple agencies. This is the first of what will be several articles in a series along this line. In some cases a dollar benefit will be quoted for the savings but in many the reason it will become more efficient will be the only justification as some agencies make it very difficult to get salary information or specific spending numbers to generate an accurate savings number.
The first department and it's subsequent agencies to discuss is HHS ( Health and human services ). I chose this one since it's "social programs" that often draw the most attention when cuts are mentioned and this department runs some key agencies in that category. There are eleven agencies that fall under this department and several have overlapping authority or duplicate functions that can be eliminated.
First savings improvement for HHS would be to eliminate completely the FDA. It's a well known fact that this agency has failed miserably at it's function for many years now and moving it's operations to more effective agencies would both improve the safety of food and health care while eliminating 24 high salary "directors" positions and the closure of several offices. Now before anyone gets upset and claims we need the FDA here's the alternative. Transfer all food inspections to the USDA which already inspects all beef, pork, poultry, and fish. Putting all food safety under a single agency makes better sense than having it scattered especially when FDA has a split mission and the agriculture department is concerned only with food production. Dollar savings would be minimal because USDA would have to hire extra inspectors to take on the workload offsetting any layoffs from the FDA. The FDA's drug approval and medical device approval functions could be easily moved to another HHS agency such as the NIH or the CDC.
The center for Medicare and Medicaid services could be transferred to and better operated by the Social Security Administration. SSA payment systems are already processing many millions of payments every month with little fraud or abuse compared to what exists with Medicare and could very easily absorb Medicare payment processing while reducing abuse of the system.
The Agency for health care research and quality should not even be an agency as it's function is a primary purpose for the existence of the NIH. The AHRQ could be entirely moved under the National Institutes of Health eliminating the need of additional buildings and offices to operate a second agency with a similar function. The same applies to the Health resources and services administration in that it could be entirely incorporated into the NIH or the NIH into it either way reducing redundant building use and wasted office space.
The Agency for toxic substances and disease registry is just like the AHRQ in that it shouldn't even be an agency. The CDC tracks and researches all diseases and should be maintaining such a registry internally without need of the ATSDR to even exist. Here again we can eliminate multiple offices thereby reducing costs like rent, utilities, upkeep costs, etc by eliminating duplicate functions.
The Administration for community living probably doesn't even belong under HHS to begin with as it's functions would be a better fit with the Department of Housing and Urban development. So either this agency could be consolidated into HUD or some HUD programs could be consolidated into it.