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White House aims to merge Labor and Education Departments, overhaul food safety agencies

Government overhaul plan unveiled

The Trump administration is recommending a plan to merge two large federal agencies -- the Labor and Education Departments -- as part of a larger reorganization of the federal government. On Thursday, the Office of Management and Budget announced a variety of proposals to reform and reorganize the bureaucracy, including merging the two departments into a single Cabinet agency dubbed the Department of Education and the Workforce, or DEW.

Such major changes would likely need approval from Congress.

According to a summary of the plan released by the administration, the merged department "would meet the needs of all American students and workers, from early childhood education to retirement."

The plan also aligns with the Trump administration's priority of refocusing higher education to include training for students to join the workforce through the expansion of apprenticeship programs. 

The plan to merge the departments was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Soon after he took office, President Trump charged the Office of Management and Budget with coming up with a plan to reorganize the government and eliminate unnecessary agencies. Currently the Labor Department is headed by Secretary Alex Acosta, and the Education Department is led by Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

The proposals announced Thursday also include a plan to streamline federal food safety oversight into a single agency, the Federal Food Safety Agency. Such functions are currently divided up among several different departments, depending on the type of food, with the Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) both playing key roles in a complex patchwork of regulations.

"To provide better food safety for the country and improve efficiency for stakeholders, the Administration proposes to consolidate core Federal food safety responsibilities into a single agency under USDA, where food safety is a top priority from farm to fork," the plan says.

Other proposed changes include a restructuring of the U.S. Postal Service to "return it to a sustainable business model," and the creation of a training program to meet the growing need for federal cybersecurity workers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.