Employees at two offices within the U.S. Department of Agriculture will have to relocate or change jobs by the end of 2019, as the agency intends to move the offices outside Washington, D.C., according to an Aug. 9 news release.
“It’s been our goal to make USDA the most effective, efficient and customer-focused department in the entire federal government,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said.
“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.”
The agency’s Economic Research Service, which will be placed under the authority of the Office of the Chief Economist, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will be moved to better attract talent living in other parts of the country and who are reluctant to deal with the traffic and cost of living associated with the D.C. area. The move is also intended to save the agency money on rent and employment costs while bringing USDA resources closer to the taxpayers that use them.
A September 2017 report found a significant rise in Agriculture Department employees accessing pornographic material on government devices.
According to the news release, ERS and NIFA, which total 707 employees based on March 2018 FedScope data, may be co-located, and employees of those departments will be offered relocation assistance and the same base pay as they currently receive. Locality pay would change based on the new location, which has yet to be determined.
The move will not, however, force any employee to leave their position at ERS or NIFA, though most will have to move to the new location.
“None of this reflects on the jobs being done by our ERS or NIFA employees and, in fact, I frequently tell my Cabinet colleagues that USDA has the best workforce in the federal government,” 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.’ ”