by Tim Pearce
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is moving two agencies and roughly 700 federal employees out of Washington, D.C., to save money and improve the department’s service to taxpayers.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will be fully moved out of the nation’s capital by 2020, according to the USDA. A location hasn’t been picked yet.
“It’s been our goal to make USDA the most effective, efficient, and customer-focused department in the entire federal government,” Perdue said in a statement. “In our Administration, we have looked critically at the way we do business, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the best service possible for our customers, and for the taxpayers of the United States.”
“In some cases, this has meant realigning some of our offices and functions, or even relocating them, in order to make more logical sense or provide more streamlined and efficient services,” Perdue said.
As part of the reorganization, Perdue is also moving the Economic Research Service (ERS) out from under the USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics branch. The ERS will be placed back in the Office of the Chief Economist under the authority of the Office of the Secretary.
Roughly 700 USDA employees could be moved, E&E News reports.
Keeping steady workers at the ERS and NIFA has been difficult for the department, and officials are hoping that moving the agencies out of D.C. to more rural and lower-cost areas will entice employees to stay longer and serve rural Americans better.
“None of this reflects on the jobs being done by our ERS or NIFA employees,” Perdue said. “These changes are more steps down the path to better service to our customers, and will help us fulfill our informal motto to ‘Do right and feed everyone.’”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has plans to move the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the largest land-owning agency in the federal government, out West. A specific location has not yet been picked.
BLM’s top officials are too distant from the lands and Americans they regulate, lawmaker and Trump administration officials say. The distance has caused tensions between western land owners, managers and federal officials.
– – –