The Interior Department has said it is “actively reviewing” the move of most of the Bureau of Land Management headquarters and some 200 positions from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colo., although it stopped short of suggesting that the review will lead to reversing the change.
The BLM move—which also resulted in certain other functions and another 60 positions—moving to various places in Western states, was one of the Trump administration’s government reorganization steps, along with the move of two Agriculture Department research agencies to Kansas City, Kansas.
Both moves were made in the name of putting employees closer to the places where their work has the most impact, but that argument was undercut when then-OMB director Mick Mulvaney said that another desired goal was that many employees would their jobs rather than move along with them.
In both cases, that occurred; an Interior Department budget document states that at BLM, “Ultimately, more than 80 percent of the employees in affected positions did not relocate” but instead retired, resigned, or took other jobs within the government.
“The ongoing review is focused on understanding what impacts the reorganization has had on BLM operations and employees, assessing the impact of the significant loss of experience, and identifying needed actions to improve bureau capacity. BLM plans to engage stakeholders—starting with bureau employees themselves—and evaluate options to provide responsive service to BLM’s customers in the West, coordinate with lawmakers and other partners in Washington, D.C., and ensure integrated leadership across the agency,” it said.
A comparable document from the Agriculture Department does not suggest that a similar review is underway regarding the move of its Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, where about two-thirds of affected employees did not move.