USDA IG to review ERS, NIFA relocation proposals | TheFencePost.com

USDA IG to review ERS, NIFA relocation proposals

-The Hagstrom Report

In response to a request from Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., the Agriculture Department's Office of the Inspector General will conduct a review of the USDA's proposal to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture from Washington to a location outside the Washington metropolitan area, Hoyer and Norton said in a news release Friday.

The review will also include the plan to place ERS under the direction of the Office of Chief Economist, which is within the Office of the Secretary.

Hoyer and Norton said the review will focus on determining:

"USDA's legal and budgetary authority to execute (a) the realignment of the Economic Research Service under the Office of the Chief Economist and (b) the relocation of ERS and National Institute of Food and Agriculture offices, and

"USDA's adherence to any established procedures relating to agency realignment and relocation, and procedures associated with cost benefit analyses (including factors such as staff recruitment and retention, access to agency services, and cost efficiencies)."

"We appreciate that the USDA Office of Inspector General is exercising its oversight authority to examine the unprecedented decision to relocate two vital agencies … without going through normal procedures and omitting required considerations, such as a robust cost-benefit analysis," Hoyer and Norton said.

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"The administration's motivations for the proposed relocations appear suspicious because of the absence of an adequate explanation for the proposed relocation or where to move the agencies," they said.

"In any case, Congress has an obligation to ensure an open and transparent process in accordance with federal laws and regulations. We are also concerned about the harm this proposal would cause to the USDA's mission and its impact on over 700 federal employees."