Funding bill looks to block USDA relocations
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Jun 04, 2019
The House appropriations bill funding the Department of Agriculture nixes Trump administration plans to move two offices outside of the National Capitol Region.
USDA plans to relocate the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and last month announced that it had rounded down 136 proposed locations to a shortlist of three contenders: the Kansas City region across Missouri and Kansas, the Research Triangle area in North Carolina and multiple locations in Indiana.
ERS has 301 employees in Washington, D.C., according to March 2018 data from the Office of Personnel Management; NIFA has 326.
But the $24.3 billion funding bill, passed by Appropriations Committee Democrats on June 4, would stop the move in its tracks. The legislative report accompanying the bill charges that USDA violated various congressional notification and funding reprogramming rules in its pursuit of the relocation strategy and did not seek comment on the plan from the general public.
USDA "has flatly refused numerous requests from this Committee and other members of Congress to provide the initial cost benefit analysis that preceded the decision to go ahead with the proposal," the report states. "These agencies' mission is to achieve the best science through research that advances U.S. agriculture and our understanding of the agricultural economy. The Committee believes that the Department's proposal puts that mission at risk and the Committee has therefore included bill language to prevent it."
The bill prevents UDSA from relocating any agency, part of an agency or mission area from its location as of Aug. 1, 2018, unless there is specific legislation authorizing the move.
Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.
Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.
Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.