Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly has said Denver “will probably” become the headquarters for three major agencies within the department as part of an ambitious reorganization effort slated to get underway in fiscal 2019.
The Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation could eventually move their headquarters operations from Washington to Denver, according to employee notes obtained by E&E News detailing a July meeting between Zinke and U.S. Geological Survey senior executives in Denver.
Zinke provided an overview of his reorganization plans to the senior executives during a July 21 lunch, USGS spokesman Dave Ozman confirmed. It included discussion of the secretary’s desire to shift more department resources and personnel from Washington to field offices across the country and empower front-line employees with more decisionmaking authority.
But more authority might not translate into higher salaries for employees outside the Beltway.
The notes indicated that Zinke believes Interior is too top-heavy with managers. He told senior executives during the Denver meeting that shrinking the workforce would be achieved without layoffs, something he has said publicly before.
“Zinke believes the DOI organization is an upside-down pyramid — there are too many high-graded employees,” the notes said. “There needs to be more lower grades, and they need to be in the field. Example, when a GS-14 retires, we should hire a GS-6 or 9.”
Zinke has told lawmakers that he wants to reduce the department workforce by 4,000 full-time jobs through a mix of attrition, separation incentives and reassignments to meet the recommendations of the Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget request.
The Montanan, a former Navy SEAL, also outlined for career managers his plan to have field offices report to regional joint management areas (JMAs) based on watershed and wildlife corridors. The idea is based on the military’s joint command structure. Leadership at the JMAs “could change or rotate between bureaus in the JMAs,” the notes said.
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