Federal agencies would have to issue detailed, public cost-benefit analyses when planning to relocate operations, under a new proposal from two Democrats active on issues affecting the federal workplace.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., said the requirement would “prevent partisan efforts to undermine the mission of our federal agencies and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately.”
They cited the loss of employees and other disruptions caused by the transfers last year from the Washington, D.C. area to the Kansas City area of two Agriculture Department research agencies, which they said “ran contrary to the best interests of the agencies, undermined their missions to support essential research for American farmers, and ultimately wasted taxpayer dollars.”
A transfer of most of Bureau of Land Management headquarters this year to Colorado, Arizona and various state offices—also on the argument that the employees will be closer to the resources the agency manages—also resulted in many employees retiring or resigning rather than moving.
A GAO report in March found that the agency had addressed the key practices for agency reorganizations only minimally or not all.
Meanwhile, the Democratic leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its subcommittee overseeing the federal workforce have asked the OPM inspector general’s office to report on another element of the administration’s government reorganization plan, the proposal to have GSA take over OPM’s operating functions and leave OPM as a sub-office of OMB.
That proposal is on indefinite hold pending the results of an outside study. However, recently a controversy has arisen regarding whether administration officials failed to disclose at House hearings last year a reported Justice Department assessment of the plan, even though they were asked repeatedly if a legal opinion had been produced.
In addition to the IG study, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Gerald Connolly, D-Va., asked for further information from Justice, OPM, GSA and OMB.