Commerce Secretary John Bryson has resigned. Here's a provocative idea: don't replace him.
Bloomberg News observes that the Commerce Department has 47,000 employees and a $7.5 billion annual budget. America didn't have a separate commerce department until 1913, yet somehow Americans managed to engage in commerce before that time without a federal government bureaucracy to assist them in doing so.
Many of the department's present-day functions (an organizational chart is here) could easily be transferred to other agencies. Weather and Oceans could go to the Interior Department. The international trade promotion and enforcement functions could go to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, or to the Department of State. The Census could go to the Interior Department, or to Homeland Security, or to the Justice Department. The federal government managed to take a census every ten years until 1913 without a Commerce Department. Some of the other statistical stuff like counting GDP could go to the Treasury Department or to the Labor Department, which does the unemployment numbers.
Businesses close all the time; government departments and agencies close hardly ever. The result is that the government personnel and agencies are protected from the process of "creative destruction" that redirects resources devoted to unproductive, uncompetitive, failed, or useless firms into more productive and efficient and valuable areas. Secretary Bryson's resignation is an opportunity to take a new look at whether the Commerce Department is still necessary nearly 100 years after it was created.