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Ellen Paul

DOI plans to force employees to move or leave

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The Washington Post reports that the Department of the Interior plans to re-organize its entire structure, forcing employees to move (or leave). The reorganization, which would come at an enormous cost for employee moving expenses, acquisition of new office space, employee buy-outs, and other expenses at a time when the Interior agencies are already facing hefty budget cuts, is seen by many as an attempt by Zinke to simply shrink staffing levels. Re-organizations of this magnitude also result in loss of morale and chaos, causing work to slow drastically for long periods of time. Even after the re-organization, it takes time for new working relationships to form. 


The re-organization is based on dividing the country into thirteen regions, supposedly on a biogeographical basis (watersheds and geographic basins). Co-locating agencies within these regions would allegedly facilitate coordination among the agencies to work together to manage particular locations, notwithstanding the fact that their missions and realms of authority differ from one another. Further, existing laws already require consultation and coordination.


The re-organization would require Congressional authority. With discretionary budget-cutting as a top priority, it may be that the Congress will not appropriate funding for this plan. Zinke intimated that Interior would simply move positions as employees retire, but that would leave agencies divided among numerous locations for at least several years.



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