Angle says NIFA will be leaving its headquarters building
The swearing-in of Scott Angle as director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture took place today at NIFA headquarters at 800 Ninth Street S.W., but Angle said at a news conference afterwards that NIFA would be leaving the building because it is “expensive and not a good use of taxpayer money.”
The building is near the USDA headquarters, but USDA officials have said the rent has become too expensive since the Wharf area of the city has become intensely developed for residential and commercial use.
More than 130 communities around the country have responded to a USDA request for expressions of interest in becoming home to more than 600 positions in NIFA and the Economic Research Service.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he hopes the number of communities will be “whittled down” and that negotiations with the finalists can take place in the first quarter of 2019. Perdue has said he wants the agencies to relocate by the end of next year.
USDA has not initiated a rulemaking process on the division, even though former administrators of both agencies and stakeholders have said they believe that moving the two agencies out of the Washington area will make it difficult to work with other U.S. government agencies as well as disrupt the lives of the employees.
Asked about the relocation process by reporters today, Angle said he knew nothing about it except what he has read in the press. Perdue said he expects Angle will work with Ernst & Young, the firm chosen to help with the relocation.
That choice of consultant for the moves became a point of controversy when Chuck Abbott of the Food & Environment Reporting Network noted that Ernst & Young is headquartered in London, not in the United States.
Perdue said the firm had been chosen by Deputy Assistant Secretary For Administration Don Bice.
A USDA spokesman later sent reporters a note that “Ernst and Young, LLP was founded in the United States and maintains a headquarters in New York City. The firm employs tens of thousands of Americans and is listed #7 on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies.”
The history of the company — now known as EY or Ernst & Young Global Limited — is complicated, with roots on both sides of the Atlantic dating back to 1849 in England and 1903 in the United States.
Ernst & Young was formed in 1989 by the merger of two Anglo-America firms: Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young International. EY’s headquarters is in London, but it has more than 700 offices in more than 150 countries.
Its global chairman and CEO is Mark Weinberger, who operates out of the Washington office. According to his biography, Weinberger served as the Treasury assistant secretary for tax policy in the George W. Bush administration. He was also appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Social Security Administration Advisory Board, and has held other U.S. government and policy positions.
Weinberger was co-founder of Washington Counsel, P.C., a D.C.-based law and legislative advisory firm that merged into EY and now operates as Washington Council EY.