Romney hints at eliminating HUD, cutting Education

Speaking at a Florida fundraiser, GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney hinted he might eliminate the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) and dramatically restructure the Education Department if he becomes president.

The former Massachusetts governor and presumptive Republican nominee made his remarks at a closed-door event in the backyard of a private home. Reporter Garrett Haake of NBC filed a news report on April 15 on the remarks he and other reporters overhead from the sidewalk below.

Romney spoke in detail about possible plans for HUD, which was led by his father, George Romney, during the Nixon administration. Mitt Romney said to the donors that he may eliminate HUD.

"I'm going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them,” Romney said, according to NBC. “Some eliminated, but I'm probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go. Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later.”

HUD's budget is primarily paying for housing and rental assistance, along with block grants to communities. About $379 million a year is devoted to information technology. Recent programs noted in the most recent IT strategic plan for 2007-2012 include system modernization, transformation of IT infrastructure, training of IT professionals and improved data collection and distribution.

Romney, at the fundraiser, said he "will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states." However, he did not specify whether the federal government would continue to fund those activities that are sent back to the states. If not, then fiscal constraints at the state level presumably would result in major cutbacks to any federal programs devolved to the states.

Asked about the fate of the Education Department if he wins the presidency, Romney said it would be overhauled.

"The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller,” Romney said.

But, he added, Education is not going to be eliminated.

“I'm not going to get rid of it entirely," Romney said. He explained that the agency would maintain a federal role in pushing back against teachers' unions, according to the NBC report.

Reorganizing the government in an effort to reduce costs is a recurring theme in recent months. President Barack Obama is also seeking Congressional authority to consolidate agencies.  

Romney added that he had learned a lesson in his failed 1994 campaign for U.S. Senator in Massachusetts, in which he had spoken of wanting to eliminate the federal Education department.

At that time, Romney was a newcomer to politics, and he lost to Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, who had run ads accusing him of being uncaring because of his stance on the Education agency.

Romney recently has mentioned that 1994 experience in several recent interviews with the press and has said it has contributed to his caution in speaking in public about specific cuts or curtailments to federal agencies.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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