The following recommendations for reorganizing the U.S. government for the post-Cold War era are adapted from a memorandum to the president-elect from a bipartisan commission co-sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Institute for International Economics. Members of the commission are listed on the following page.

Harnessing Process to Purpose

You have won the presidency at a unique juncture in America’s history. The decline of America’s global competitiveness, economic stagnation and the end of the Cold War have transformed the policy agenda. To address these new challenges you will need to harness government process to administration purpose and to make the powers of the government work for you.

Twice in recent American history great crises propelled presidents to restructure the government. In 1933, facing deep economic crisis, Franklin Roosevelt began a far-reaching reform of domestic agencies. In 1947, confronting a new challenge from abroad, Harry Truman carried out a historic reorganization of the U.S. national security structure.

As in 1933 and 1947 new circumstances and new policies require new machinery. If America wishes to compete successfully in the new global economy and to deal effectively with other "new priorities," reorganizing the government for the post-Cold War world is a necessity, not a luxury. But the sweeping organizational reforms of those earlier eras are today probably out of reach or excessively costly in terms of time and political capital. This commission believes that the times call for a middle course: a series of highly targeted changes that would make a difference.

Thirty years ago President Dwight Eisenhower, who believed deeply in the importance of good organization, observed that bad organization "can scarcely fail to result in inefficiency and can easily lead to disaster." In that spirit this commission offers some suggestions on how to reshape the tools at your disposal. In general it has avoided recommending changes that require congressional action. Suggested reforms that do require legislative approval were included only after informal consultations with members of Congress led this commission to believe that, if backed by the administration, they would be favorably considered on Capitol Hill.

Register for free to continue reading.
Registered users get access to two free articles every month.

Or subscribe now and save 55 percent.

Subscription benefits include:
  • Full access to ForeignAffairs.com
  • Six issues of the magazine
  • Foreign Affairs iPad app privileges
  • Special editorial collections

Latest Commentary & News analysis