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Ryan wants decentralized federal government

USDA already planning to move two branches out of D.C.

WARREN — Congressman Tim Ryan on Wednesday introduced the Federal Government Decentralization Commission Act.

This legislation would establish a commission under the General Services Administration (GSA), headed by the Administrator of the GSA and 10 other members, that would study the relocation of select executive agencies or divisions of agencies outside the Washington metropolitan area.

The Commission would identify new potential locations in economically distressed areas, or areas with expertise in the mission and goal of the agency. The commission will take into account national security implications and will be required to produce an economic and workforce development study on how the relocation will impact the new location.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is searching for a new, decentralized home for two of its branches — Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture — and two of the sites submitted for consideration were in Trumbull County.

The USDA gives numerous reasons for wanting to move the headquarters out of Washington, D.C., including to be closer to the region of the country that is focused on agriculture, to attract and retain staff who are qualified and interested in working in agriculture, to be near the universities that offer programs that focus on the industry and offer a cheaper cost of living to employees.

If the headquarters move, existing employees will be allowed to move with the offices with the same pay and receive relocation assistance.The NIFA facility is expected to house approximately 360 employees and the ERS facility is expected to employ 260, according to Sectetary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s office.

About 91 percent of USDA’s approximately 108,000 employees already work outside of the Washington, D.C., region, according to Perdue.

“The Founding Fathers could not have imagined our current federal government system, with more than 300,000 federal workers in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area in 190 federally-owned buildings and 500 leased buildings. Of course our country should be proud of our capital city and the role it plays in our history and the running of the federal government. But our government belongs to all Americans, and communities across the United States should be able to benefit from the economic boost these employment centers bring, especially for economically distressed places in the heartland,” Ryan said in a press release about the legislation.

“The technology available to us today allows for seamless communication and collaboration regardless of geographic location. This is already allowing a web of federal offices and agencies across the U.S., such as the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, to perform their work without being inside the Washington Beltway. This is a commonsense way to help cities like Youngstown, Detroit, and Gary, Indiana share in the economic development that comes from housing federal government agencies,” Ryan said.

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