Donald Trump's latest executive order paves way for downsizing of agencies as president seeks funds for armed forces and Mexican wall.
The US president launched an overhaul of the federal government on Monday, signing an executive order he said would eventually streamline services and cut costs.
The first step, he told reporters gathered in the Oval Office, was to find out where money was being wasted.
The president was elected on a populist mandate to strengthen America’s armed forces and national security while protecting its massive social security budget without increasing taxes.
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) 13 March 2017
That means he must find billions of dollars in savings if he is to square the circle of federal finances and deliver a balanced budget on Thursday.
During the campaign, Mr Trump insisted he could find sweeping savings by running the government more efficiently and striking better deals, but sceptics are braced for massive cuts to services to pay for his military splurge.
The executive order does not specify where savings might be found, but could instead mark the start of an effort to close entire agencies and slash the federal workforce.
Mr Trump said: “This order requires a thorough examination of every ex dept and agency to see where money is being wasted, how services can be improved and whether programmes are truly serving American citizens.”
Agency heads are asked to submit proposals within six months. The public have also been asked to weigh in with recommendations.
“Based on this input we will develop a plan to make the federal government work better, reorganising, consolidating and eliminating where necessary,” continued Mr Trump. “In other words making the federal government more efficient and very, very cost productive.”
Suggestions must then go to Congress before implementation.
Democrats are already bracing for a fight if important services are threatened by this week’s budget.
Mr Trump is considering cutting the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget by $6 billion (£4.9bn), according to a draft budget document obtained by The Washington Post.