This may sound like a strange thing coming from someone who has voted for Democrats his entire life but it is something we really do need. The most recent increase came with the establishment of Homeland Security as its own cabinet post. I was particularly incensed at its formation, not because we did not need such focus, but because it disregarded an existing agency entirely. That agency is the Department of Defense. I will explain.
By definition, homeland security has always been the domain of our armed forces. But there have been certain restrictions with regard of how those forces could be used. This restrictions are a part of our federal laws. That meant we can use our armed forces as a police force only in times of martial law. But the solution to that was not to create an entirely new agency, but to change the laws to make it possible. There is not a single thing the DHS does today that our military could not have accomplished. The most visible of all DHS is at our airports. The idea of people in military uniforms was at the airports was undesirable. The solution was to simply create a special uniform for those who were put into such situation so they did not look like other members of the military. These people would specialize in just these sorts of duties. But the duties would be easily transferable to the more traditional military duties.
That would have eliminated an entire agency as it exists today. But I certainly would not stop there. I think certain agencies can be folded into other existing agencies. The Department of Energy can be fairly easily split between Commerce and Transportation. The Department of Justice can absorb duties now assigned to the Treasury and Homeland Security. Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services can be combined. The Departments of the Interior and Agriculture can be combined. And the list goes on.
I was a federal employee for 30 years, 11 active duty in the U.S. Army and 19 at the U.S. Department of Transportation. I worked at one of the more lean portions of the government. Even there, however, there was an overabundance of senior civil service employees which could have been easily reduced, even more than it had been. Because of that, I certainly believe that this is true of every other agency. That means there needs to be a definition of how many people at a minimum senior manager must have in order to retain their pay grade. It would also give definition to how many of any particular pay grade can exist within the entire government. It would not surprise me that people of the pay grades GS-15, SES-1 and higher have as few as 5 people working under them when a minimum of 25 or more should be observed SES grades and 10 or more for GS-15. People in these grades typically jealously protect their fiefdoms. They are wonderful at rationalizing the status quo but are poor when pragmatism is called for. Additionally, minimum education requirements need to be observed for these pay grades, another thing that frequently does not exist today. I knew of one SES person who had nothing more than a high school education. He ruled over people holding master degrees and PhD.
I want to caution people about one thing. A small government is not a guarantee to a reduced level of funding. At the federal level, payroll is a relatively small portion of the entire budget. But to be sure, a smaller government will make it much more manageable.