Press Releases

Wexton Statement on GAO Report Detailing Detrimental Impacts of Relocation of USDA Research Agencies

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) issued a statement on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that concluded that the 2019 relocation of two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research agencies by the Trump administration led to a decline in workforce size and productivity. Wexton has been an outspoken critic of the relocation of the Economic Research Agency (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside of the National Capital Region, including requesting this GAO review of the move.

“This report confirms that the disastrous relocation of two USDA research agencies forced experienced federal workers out of their jobs, leading to a brain drain of expertise and crippling the ability of these agencies to fulfill their missions. The previous administration’s thinly-veiled effort to gut the agencies and politicize their essential work was – unfortunately – successful.

“I’ve made it a priority to shine a light on the detrimental consequences of this haphazard relocation process and to ensure an administration can never again undermine the nonpartisan work of civil servants in this way. I was proud to author the COST of Relocations Act last Congress which would put in place necessary guardrails to prevent politically motivated and rushed agency relocations by requiring a holistic and public cost-benefit analysis of any proposed move.

“I’ll continue working to defend our federal workers and uphold the integrity of their critical work on behalf of our country.”

Wexton and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Conducting Oversight to Secure Transparency (COST) of Relocations Act last Congress, which would require a federal agency undergoing a proposed relocation to conduct and make public a cost-benefit analysis of the move before it is carried out.

The full GAO report can be found here.