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Move a Bit Of D.C. To Central Iowa–How about the Iowa Juvenile Home campus in Toledo?

August 15, 2018
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Thursday, Aug. 9, "announced further reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), intended to improve customer service, strengthen offices and programs and save taxpayer dollars."

Well, how about the vacant Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for girls campus in Toledo? Closed since January, 2014, a use for the 27-acre campus remains to be sought.

The USDA news release lists three primary reasons for the change.

Article Photos

The criteria fits right in here. There are significant ways the IJH campus is ideal for consideration and implementation of this move.

The news release says, in part, "New locations have yet to be determined, and it is possible that ERS and NIFA may be co-located when their new homes are found. USDA is undertaking the relocations for three main reasons:

Reason 1. "To attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities"

Response: - Iowa State University, a land grant university, is right down the road not much more than an hour away on the U.S. 30 Expressway.

Reason 2. "To place these important USDA resources closer to many of stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington, DC area"

Response: Toledo, Iowa, is a great central location to serve farmers, grower and livestock producers across the country. Toledo certainly boasts "an agriculture - stakeholder setting:" Dupont-Pioneer Hi-Bred Plant located in Toledo often is called the world's largest seed corn production plant - Iowa's largest beef plant is here in Tama, two big pork processing plants are nearby in Marshalltown and Waterloo, Tama County and Iowa are the heart of America and the world's agricultural production area.

Reason 3. "To benefit the American taxpayers. There will be significant savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets."

Response: Isn't it very possible State of Iowa would hand over the keys to the IJH campus without hesitation at NO COST and this welcomed service would be where it belongs? There is sufficient room to build housing and convert buildings to apartments on the campus, saving taxpayer money. Existing buildings can be used for office space. More than $20 million in infrastructure improvements were completed on the campus less than 10 years ago including an $8 million geo-thermal heating system.

Hopefully Secretary Perdue will take a close look at the benefits of the Iowa Juvenile Home campus and the U.S. Iowa Congressional delegation on both sides of the aisle will get on board to urge consideration.

-J. Speer

The complete news release:

USDA to Realign ERS with Chief Economist,

Relocate ERS & NIFA Outside DC

(Washington, D.C., August 9, 2018) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced further reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), intended to improve customer service, strengthen offices and programs, and save taxpayer dollars. The Economic Research Service (ERS), currently under USDA's Research, Education, and Economics mission area, will realign once again with the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) under the Office of the Secretary. Additionally, most employees of ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will be relocated outside of the National Capital Region. The movement of the employees outside of Washington, DC is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

"It's been our goal to make USDA the most effective, efficient, and customer-focused department in the entire federal government," Perdue said. "In our Administration, we have looked critically at the way we do business, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the best service possible for our customers, and for the taxpayers of the United States. In some cases, this has meant realigning some of our offices and functions, or even relocating them, in order to make more logical sense or provide more streamlined and efficient services."

Realigning ERS with OCE

Moving ERS back together with OCE under the Office of the Secretary simply makes sense because the two have similar missions. ERS studies and anticipates trends and emerging issues, while OCE advises the Secretary and Congress on the economic implications of policies and programs. These two agencies were aligned once before, and bringing them back together will enhance the effectiveness of economic analysis at USDA.

Relocating ERS and NIFA outside National Capital Region

New locations have yet to be determined, and it is possible that ERS and NIFA may be co-located when their new homes are found. USDA is undertaking the relocations for three main reasons:

To improve USDA's ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities. USDA has experienced significant turnover in these positions, and it has been difficult to recruit employees to the Washington, DC area, particularly given the high cost of living and long commutes.

To place these important USDA resources closer to many of stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington, DC area.

To benefit the American taxpayers. There will be significant savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets.

No ERS or NIFA employees will be involuntarily separated. Every employee who wants to continue working will have an opportunity to do so, although that will mean moving to a new location for most. Employees will be offered relocation assistance and will receive the same base pay as before, and the locality pay for the new location. For those who are interested, USDA is seeking approval from the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget for both Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments.

"None of this reflects on the jobs being done by our ERS or NIFA employees, and in fact, I frequently tell my Cabinet colleagues that USDA has the best workforce in the federal government," Perdue said. "These changes are more steps down the path to better service to our customers, and will help us fulfill our informal motto to 'Do right and feed everyone.'"

Perdue previously announced other significant changes at USDA. In May 2017, USDA created the first-ever Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and reconstituted and renamed the new Farm Production and Conservation mission area, among other realignments. In addition, in September 2017, Perdue realigned a number of offices to improve customer service and maximize efficiency. Those actions involved innovation, consolidation, and the rearrangement of certain offices into more logical organizational reporting structures.

 
 
 

 

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