Data Workers at Department of Agriculture Face Relocation

By Leonard, Kimberly | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, August 10, 2018 | Go to article overview

Data Workers at Department of Agriculture Face Relocation


Leonard, Kimberly, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


The Department of Agriculture is moving hundreds of data workers to an office location outside the District of Columbia, an effort the Trump administration says is toaimed at cutting costs.

The move is part of a larger reorganization of the agency by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. It applies to the Economic Research Service, a division President Trump's budget had called for slashing in half.

The latest change is expected not only to to reduce spending but to bring the Economic Research Service under the Office of the Chief Economist, which advises Congress and the secretary about the impact of policiey impacts.

The Economic Research Service is currently housed under the Research, Education and Economics area, and the Union of Concerned Scientists said that it was important for the agency to fall outside of reporting directly to the secretary of agriculture, which is what will happen once the move is complete. Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that the change could "potentially limit the integrity and autonomy of agency research."

“Data collection must be objective and free from political interference," he said. "The USDA’s proposal would also literally distance scientists from the department’s decision-making process at a time when farmers, ranchers, and eaters face significant challenges.”

The Department of Agriculture did not respond to questions about the concerns. A release detailing the move stated this arrangement "simply makes sense because the two have similar missions. …

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