No. 1009 | July 1992  

The Issue in Brief

Section 2 of Article 5 of the state Constitution authorizes the governor to “make changes in the organization of the executive branch or in the assignment of functions among its units which he considers necessary for efficient ad-ministration.” The state Constitution authorizes the creation of no more than 20 principal departments; Public Act 380 of 1965, the executive organization act of 1965, established 19 principal departments. In order to effect a reorganization, the governor must issue an executive order outlining the specific organizational changes, then the Legislature has 60 calendar days to disapprove each executive order. Disapproval must be by both houses. If this does not occur, the executive order becomes effective on a date designated by the governor.

Delegates to the 1961 Constitutional Convention wanted to strengthen the governor and allow the governor to meet the evolving needs of state government. One of the techniques adopted was to include authorization for executive reorganization subject to legislative veto by both houses of the Legislature. Opponents were concerned with the concentration of power, including political control, in the governor at the expense of the Legislature. For the first 26 years the executive reorganization authority existed, it did not prove to be a substantial factor in the administrative or political management of state government. There were few major reorganizations effected.

The current governor is using the executive reorganization authority to a greater extent than his predecessors. The governor’s use of this power may reflect all three reasons envisioned by delegates to the constitutional convention: efficiency, management control, and political control. Any conclusion as to whether this use is good or bad public policy depends on one’s support for a strong executive, as well as one’s position on the specific changes that have been implemented. Those who believe in a strong executive will applaud the current Governor’s initiatives, while those who do not believe in a strong executive may find fault with the governor’s use of the executive reorganization authority. This Council Comments reviews the history of the gubernatorial reorganization provision, analyzes the impact of past executive order reorganizations, and reviews the active use of this constitutional authority by the current governor.

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