WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that, in response to their request, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Inspector General will conduct a review of the USDA’s proposal to move the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, currently located in the nation’s capital, by the end of 2019, and to reorganize ERS under the Office of the Secretary, a political office.
The Office of Inspector General review will focus on issues identified by Hoyer and Norton in their request, including: “1. To determine USDA’s legal and budgetary authority to execute a) the realignment of the Economic Research Service (ERS) under the Office of the Chief Economist and b) the relocation of ERS and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) offices,” and “2. To determine 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 in the National Capital Region without going through normal procedures and omitting required considerations, such as a robust cost-benefit analysis,” said Congressman Hoyer and Congresswoman Norton. “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. 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.”