I was very pleased to read about one attempt to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.
Two small agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may be moving outside of Washington, D.C. and the federal employees involved are not happy about that. Both agencies are seeing an increase of resignations on a monthly basis.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced his intention to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) from the swamp to the heartland. Perdue said to think of it as moving the department’s scientists closer to its “customers”, the farmers. Perdue thinks the move will improve customer service and agency performance. The majority of staffers will be asked to relocate, but the actual location of the move has not yet been announced.
. . .
ERS employees are members of the American Federation of Government Employees. They only just joined the union earlier this month. Employees at ERS voted 138 to 4 to unionize. NIFA workers will hold a vote in June. Union representative Peter Winch said the move doesn’t make sense and the government workers don’t want to move.
. . .
“We will, frankly, be wanting to delay this move,” said Winch of the AFGE. Workers were told they would be given until the end of September to move to the new city, he said. “We would like a lot more leeway than that,” Winch said.
There’s more at the link.
I’m not surprised that those who live in the swamp like it there, and don’t want to move. There are lots of advantages to being there, particularly communities that have grown rich on swamp-level salaries, and consequently offer better schools, facilities and opportunities than poorer areas throughout the country (that would be most of them).
On the other hand, I think the Secretary of Agriculture is entirely correct. Why should his staff live and work in a bureaucratic hot-house, isolated from the challenges and difficulties facing the very people they are being asked to serve? How can they understand those realities if they never experience them?
I think a move like this makes sense, for all the right reasons. That it represents another step towards draining the swamp just happens to be a fringe benefit.