The White House is looking at combining a set of agencies involved in trade and exports as it works to implement President Barack Obama's State of the Union call to "merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government."
White House officials in recent months seriously considered a plan to combine parts of the Commerce Department with other trade and export agencies, and to have the president announce the proposal during the speech, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
They pulled back amid unsettled questions over which agencies would fold into the new department, among other details. But trade, exports and boosting competitiveness remain the focus of White House thinking on a reorganization plan, a White House official said.
"We want to ensure that we're aligning all of the resources we have into negotiating the best agreements, enforcing our trade rights, supporting our exporters and promoting their products," a White House official said.
Mr. Obama spoke expansively during his State of the Union speech about the need to reshape government, though it was unclear how broad his proposal would be. "We live and do business in the Information Age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black-and-white TV," he said.
He noted that 12 agencies deal with exports, five with housing and that separate agencies regulate salmon in fresh water and in the ocean. He promised to give Congress a reorganization plan "that best serves the goal of a more competitive America."