Search This Blog

Saturday, January 29, 2011


In his State of the Union address, the president spoke in broad terms about reorganizing the government. At NPR, Alan Greenblatt reports that success might not be easy.

"It's not so much that getting the organization right doesn't help, but it's hugely costly," says John Donahue, a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "It's more expensive than most people anticipate."

Obama got a good laugh when he pointed out the seeming absurdity of salmon having to deal with separate federal bureaucracies as they swim out to sea. "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in salt water."

The reality is that it's not salmon being regulated, but the type of body of water they're swimming in.

"It's true that salmon may be treated by two or three different Cabinet departments," says Donald Kettl, dean of the public policy school at the University of Maryland, "but you don't want to have a Department of Salmon that deals with salmon wherever they live, and then a separate Department of Cod."

The bigger point is that Interior and Commerce have different priorities when it comes to salmon. One is trying to preserve the fish, while the other is trying to promote its sale. Putting salmon management under one roof won't change that dynamic.