The BLM is moving west - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-11-2019, 06:48 AM   #1
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The BLM is moving west

https://www.blm.gov/office/national-office/hq-move-west
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Old 12-11-2019, 09:16 AM   #2
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Definitely makes sense since it's where all the land they manage is located. Grand Junction could use a little economic revitalization anyway...
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Old 12-11-2019, 11:26 AM   #3
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When I worked for the FDA in the Ď70s there was a lot of pressure to move HQ to Roanoke. The argument that stopped the move was that it would reinforce the dead-wood. Most scientists, MDs, mathematicians etc. who didnít find the move attractive could all find good jobs in D.C. The folks who couldnít find other jobs would have had to move.


The BLM link makes a good case for the move. It is well done. I just wonder how valid itís arguments are.
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:25 PM   #4
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It's probably a valid point. I've never spent time in DC. However the caliber of scientists I work with in the west is hard to beat. I see it as a good thing that we get people willing to do just as much good work for often much less money because they couldn't handle DC no matter how much you paid them.

The quality of life in the west attracts exactly the kind of top-notch scientists you want working for the BLM. If they aren't interested in rural towns and wide open spaces, why are they working for the BLM? A paycheck, in the end, and they'd be just as content working for any other agency. I'd rather have people who understand and love the types of land they manage working there.

I see a lot of "ranch kids" working for the BLM out here. They go to school and get a great education and often don't want to work on the ranch, though some do. Some are as smart as they come, but they want to live here, not in DC.
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:39 PM   #5
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I wish it were for efficiency reasons, but that is the excuse. The current administration is hoping the move will cause current scientists and workers to leave the Agency. The administration sees these people as an obstruction since they use regulations and science to preventing the logging, ranching and mining interests from doing whatever they want with public land.
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:47 PM   #6
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I like living in CO. I miss the Chesapeake, seafood, good ethnic restaurants, etc. When I drive to the east coast and get to the Kansas Cities I start to cringe in the traffic. My little geriatric mind does know that Iím still west of the Mississippi but it doesnít help.


The reasons people live where they do are often things like where they grew up or went to school, family, or first job, etc. Leaving family behind can be difficult.
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:51 PM   #7
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Will depend on if having the headquarters draws new or more workers to the area or if having the headquarters drains the available talent and has to drop standards to fill positions.

The other obvious issue is access and influence. BLM is a federal government agency, not having their leadership readily available to participate in funding or regulatory discussions that take place in DC is a potential downside. Some collaboration can be handled by remote access tools like video conferencing but it isn't the same as actually being in the building with the other players or available for a working lunch with congressional staffers working on budget or policies that impact the BLM.

Leadership doesn't need to be on the scene of the work IF the people who are on the scene have the ability and authority to get the job done. Labs that analyze data also don't need proximity to the data collection to function effectively. One doesn't go to the DNA testing lab to spit in a test tube, one sends it in via the mail.

The people who can get jobs and not haul family out of school and community will take a great deal of institutional knowledge with them when they get other jobs. That loss has real value.

So with BLM leadership out of the loop and a good deal of disruption likely to accompany the move, and the lost time and costs associated with that disruption and move I'm not sure I see enough upside to convince me it makes good sense.
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:59 PM   #8
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...

The people who can get jobs and not haul family out of school and community will take a great deal of institutional knowledge with them when they get other jobs. That loss has real value.

...

Since weíve entered the ďgig economyĒ no one even knows what institutional knowledge is anymore.
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Old 12-11-2019, 03:16 PM   #9
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In the category of "brain drain" and loss of institutional knowledge, a headquarters moving locations is the least of our worries. I get free office space in a Dept of Agriculture building, so Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Services Bureau offices are all there.

I see what's it's like to be a Federal employee these days, especially under an administration that's openly hostile to science.

People want small government, which often means anytime someone retires, their workload is added to another employees workload, rather than hiring a new person. Between government shutdowns, shrinking (mostly) budgets, growing workloads and the amount of bureaucracy they have to deal with to get anything done, it's amazing so many of them stick around.

It's so hard to avoid politics these days!
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Old 12-12-2019, 10:14 AM   #10
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Saving money on rent and locality pay, and being closer to the action, are both shallow arguments. Let's apply those to every DC-based organization, and then move everyone to Tennessee. There's nothing wrong with Tennessee, but it's cheaper than DC, locality pay is lower, and it's geographically closer to a larger portion of the population. Plus you're now only one time zone away from either the East or West coast!

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Will depend on if having the headquarters draws new or more workers to the area or if having the headquarters drains the available talent and has to drop standards to fill positions.

The other obvious issue is access and influence. BLM is a federal government agency, not having their leadership readily available to participate in funding or regulatory discussions that take place in DC is a potential downside. Some collaboration can be handled by remote access tools like video conferencing but it isn't the same as actually being in the building with the other players or available for a working lunch with congressional staffers working on budget or policies that impact the BLM.

Leadership doesn't need to be on the scene of the work IF the people who are on the scene have the ability and authority to get the job done. Labs that analyze data also don't need proximity to the data collection to function effectively. One doesn't go to the DNA testing lab to spit in a test tube, one sends it in via the mail.

The people who can get jobs and not haul family out of school and community will take a great deal of institutional knowledge with them when they get other jobs. That loss has real value.

So with BLM leadership out of the loop and a good deal of disruption likely to accompany the move, and the lost time and costs associated with that disruption and move I'm not sure I see enough upside to convince me it makes good sense.
There's more going on and you had it spot on: "The other obvious issue is access and influence." I think the new location will attract plenty of top-quality employees...who will promptly be ignored in DC. Ask the right people and that is the upside.

I have always worked in dispersed organizations, and regardless of the amount of emailing, teleconferencing, or team meetings, the input of the lower tiers is easily set aside or dismissed for the preconceptions, good idea flavor of the month, or *gasp* ego at headquarters. When you're not around to day-in and day-out push your agenda, someone else is pushing theirs. Congressional staffers will trust lobbyists for private interests just as much as they trust BLM staff. Only difference now is that the BLM staff won't be around to provide their side of the story.
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Old 12-12-2019, 12:08 PM   #11
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There's nothing wrong with Tennessee, but it's cheaper than DC, locality pay is lower, and it's geographically closer to a larger portion of the population. Plus you're now only one time zone away from either the East or West coast!...
Umm...forgetting the Rocky Mountain Time Zone? Tennessee is two hours ahead of the West Coast.

While I am just as cynical as others about underlying political motivations behind the move, I still like it. Politics will always be there and shift with each change in administration.
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Old 12-12-2019, 12:32 PM   #12
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Umm...forgetting the Rocky Mountain Time Zone? Tennessee is two hours ahead of The West Coast.

While I am just as cynical as others about underlying political motivations behind the move, I still like it. Politics will always be there and shift with each change in administration.
I knew I was missing something.

Elect me and I'll get rid of that pesky Rocky Mountain Time Zone for good.
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Old 12-12-2019, 01:32 PM   #13
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BLM will still have a presence in DC after the move in the form of a congressional liaison office. Not the same, I know.

P.S. Just get rid of that pesky daylight time and you’ve got my vote. Tired of bouncing between Mountain time and Pacific time, or fast time and slow time as they call it here. During the summer I may change time zones 3-4 times in the course of a day’s work (without entering an airplane).
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Old 12-12-2019, 03:24 PM   #14
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BLM will still have a presence in DC after the move in the form of a congressional liaison office. Not the same, I know.

P.S. Just get rid of that pesky daylight time and youíve got my vote. Tired of bouncing between Mountain time and Pacific time, or fast time and slow time as they call it here. During the summer I may change time zones 3-4 times in the course of a dayís work (without entering an airplane).
See, these are the sort of deals we could work if we were both in DC!

The BLM presence appears limited to 60 personnel whose positions are "inherently DC-based" and include "legislative, regulatory and public affairs, budget, and Freedom of Information Act compliance, as well as the Deputy Director for Policy and Programs." Without having more specifics of the authority assigned to the legislative, regulatory, and budget positions, it's hard to say if they might be effective.

I've always thought I might like a second career down the road in public lands management, and the BLM is one potential employer. Personally I'd rather work in Colorado or at a state office (where many of the DC employee positions are being relocated to) than in DC. If the legacy policies for protection of public lands weren't being actively dismantled, this move may not be concerning. Maybe I'm going Chicken Little here, I just hope my kid has the same access to semi-pristine public lands as I do. Now if I can just get people to stop leaving trash and poop on public land...
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:08 PM   #15
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Lots of reasons for such moves. It could be a political favor owed. But more likely it has to do with the fact that land in DC is very valuable and land out west is a fraction of the cost. So if the government owns the land in DC they can generate a lot of income by leasing that property to someone else and come out way ahead by moving the operation to where it cost a lot less.

It is a benefit to employees who want and need more affordable housing, especially housing suitable for raising families, to get out of a big city with all the traffic and crime problems. To have a nicer place to raise a family and easy access to the outdoors for recreation in nature. The working parent can spend less time away from home on business trips. Their personal times won't be eaten away by having to commute in to work from a bedroom community. They might be scientist but remember they are scientist whose work is specialized and focused in the area they hired in for and that does not mean that they can take just any old job in Washington DC that comes up. Good pay is tied to specializations and so are resumes when it comes to applying for the good paying jobs. The support staff who run the offices and such can find other work and in other places there will be locals to replace those persons.

Any political reason could be backed up by these other benefits.

In the long run some folks will be unhappy with the change (they might have strong ties in that community) and others will be thrilled by the move with a whole bunch being of the "it is inconvenient but life goes on and I don't mind some change now and again" attitude.
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:53 AM   #16
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I worked for several large corporations over my career. In every case, the people at the large urban corporate offices lost touch with the business, as they were nowhere near it. They also gave themselves lush perks, way different than any of the manufacturing locations.

Personally, if I was king, I would have built headquarters adjacent to at one of their large manufacturing facilities, let people see what the business was really about every day.

Not a company I worked for, but the typical is like Boeing's headquarters which moved away from Seattle area (where they make almost all of their product), to Chicago, where they make nothing. Got to wonder if this affected decision making in any negative way.

DC becomes a very expensive echo chamber.

I had a friend retire from DC. He sold his 800 sq ft condo and with the proceeds bought a 4500 sq ft mansion overlooking the city of Boone, NC (a nice college town).
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Old 12-13-2019, 08:04 AM   #17
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I agree, and itís not unprecedented. CDC is another large federal agency, and it lives more or less happily in Atlanta.

Atlanta does have one advantage Grand Junction lacks: a major hub airport. Nonstop flights to and from DC save taxpayers time and money versus branch routes.
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Old 12-13-2019, 10:00 AM   #18
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I have seldom heard employees forced to move to another part of the country for work describe it in favorable terms. It is at best a monumental hassle that moving always is. At worst it can totally uproot families.

That being said having first dibs on jobs in the new location is always appreciated. Just ask any UAW member who has had a plant closing impact their job.

Grand Junction is at least a semi-arid area if not desert. For those who like things like trees and the color green in general not going to like it as much. There are mountains near enough to visit which some will really like. Others may find the elevation makes those mountains a tough place for day hikes. Hunters may find it an attractive location, boaters and beach lovers maybe not so much.

Cost of living is lower, not sure what it will do to the pay so can't really say if it will enhance the finances of the people working there.

DC real estate is valuable, and one can make assorted arguments for why the move "makes sense" being closer to BLM lands is to me a very weak argument for a research based organization.

Unless one is moving people there to collect samples and observer those BLM lands we are setting up our primary research facility for public lands far from where decisions are made and I believe far from any major international airline hub. It would not surprise me to find out DC to northern Rocky Mountains, Arizona/Utah, and California/West Coast BLM lands would be faster or at least more direct from DC than from Grand Junction.

Essentially one can fly pretty directly from DC to capital or major city in most states. From Grand Junction you had some hopping to do and it may have changed but turbo prop for the last leg sticks in my mind. Was a long time ago so may be more direct now but I wouldn't count on it being anything like Atlanta or DC for transportation.

The two most likely drivers to my way of thinking are the real estate angle. Or a desire to reduce the influence and effectiveness of the BLM scientist. Since protecting and preserving are always in tension with developing and exploiting. That tension flows into the decision without a doubt and this could be a fairly effective method of weakening the institution long term. Or they may find that the scientist free of DC and closer to the lands they are studying may become even more independent and more adamant about protecting those lands.

Also I can imagine if BLM scientist did a report on a negative effects to ground water of some mining operation and discussed it with their friends and neighbors it would resonate in Grand Junction in a way that it might not in DC. The CDC in Atlanta is possibly more independent being in Atlanta but they had a hard time overcoming the politics at the start of the AIDS epidemic. Maybe because they were in effect "outsiders". People died who might not have if their scientists had been able to move things along. Ignoring science for politics is seldom going to lead to a good solution or outcomes except for political solutions and outcomes.
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Old 12-14-2019, 06:05 PM   #19
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...

P.S. Just get rid of that pesky daylight time and you’ve got my vote. Tired of bouncing between Mountain time and Pacific time, or fast time and slow time as they call it here. During the summer I may change time zones 3-4 times in the course of a day’s work (without entering an airplane).
I just found this thread and while I do not have much to say about moving the BLM out west, I would like to add my voice to the idea of one (standard) time throughout the year. I absolutely hated the change while I worked. It is well known that the time changes are to blame for all kinds of bad things. The European Union is going that way! They are taking a long time, but I know (of) someone in DC who might do it quickly and painlessly. I am voting for it!
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Old 12-14-2019, 09:45 PM   #20
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I wonder what the BLM did to get put onto the "out of sight..out of their minds" list for relocation? Oh, I know, cattle, sheep and horses can't vote, neither can all the wild creatures and they don't ever pay taxes. The isolated ranchers are too broke to pay for lobbyist to protect their interest and cowboys just want to be left alone to do their own thing. It is illegal to live on that land so no one is being forced out of their home. Yep not a high enough in status agency, might as well tuck them out of sight in a foresaken spot where it is difficult for them show up for the high powered meetings about things such as protecting wildlife and wilderness.
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