The Bureau of Land Management headquarters will soon have a new home outside Washington, D.C., but employees that don’t want to make that move may have special consideration available to them for new federal jobs or early retirement.

The plan to move the agency headquarters out west was introduced back in 2018, but efforts to make that move a reality ramped up in late summer and early fall of 2019. Employees that didn’t want to move to the agency’s new headquarters location in Grand Junction, Colorado, were required to notify the agency of their decision by Dec. 12.

In a letter sent to employees that same day and first published by FedSmith, BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Pendley Perry said that impacted employees that still want to remain in federal service “receive early consideration for any new positions within the entire Department in the Washington area five days before being advertised on USAJobs.”

According to the letter, that program has already seen 30 employees placed in new positions either within the Department of Interior or at other agencies, and there are 21 positions at D.C. and Northern Virginia BLM offices that employees may be able to transition to.

Feds that plan to use the transition to leave federal service entirely will have access to Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments.

“We remain committed to working with each of you to assist in the transition, regardless of whether or not you are able to make the move West,” Pendley wrote.

The agency’s transition support team also plans to offer career counseling, resumé-writing, interviewing workshops and identification of DOI and BLM vacancies for qualified employees at the agency’s M Street location Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The BLM’s move west initiative is one of two major and controversial relocation plans introduced by the Trump administration this past year, as employees of the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture were also notified that their jobs would be moving out of D.C. to Kansas City.

Though both agencies have said that the relocation will spread federal job opportunities, bring employees closer to the citizens they serve and reduce overall costs, critics of the moves have said that they are designed to reduce the federal workforce by getting rid of employees that can’t or won’t move.

That position was confirmed when Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney called the proposed moves “a wonderful way to drain the swamp,” back in August.

BLM is expected to complete its relocation transition by the end of 2020.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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