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Government watchdog to probe movement of land management bureau out of DC

Government watchdog to probe movement of land management bureau out of DC
© Greg Nash

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), will probe the Trump administration’s decision to relocate Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff from Washington, D.C., to Colorado, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) announced Wednesday.

Grijalva described the plan to relocate the BLM’s headquarters as an attempt to “undermine” the agency’s mission and said it is “not being made in good faith” during a Wednesday press conference. 

“The Government Accountability Office has agreed to review this move and determine if it was properly planned, analyzed, and whether it will deliver the benefits that the administration has been claiming,” Grijalva said. 

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He added that he has spoken with congressional appropriators regarding the move and possible money allocated for it and suggested that his committee could also use subpoena power to get documents regarding the move. 

Opponents have criticized the change as an attack on career officials, while proponents have said that it will move employees closer to the lands that they manage.

During the press conference, which took place one day before employees must notify the bureau whether they will will move to Grand Junction, Colo., former BLM employees slammed the move as “disastrous” and “radical.”

“This reorganization, if implemented, will prove to be disastrous for the health of our nation’s public lands, for public land stakeholders in rural communities and for the bureau of land management,” said former BLM director Bob Abbey, who led the agency from 2009 to 2012. 

“The current plan by the department is radical, it’s unnecessary, it’s not well thought out,” said former BLM Deputy Director Henri Bisson.  “It’s being dictated by political officials without regard for the long-term consequences and will harm public land management for many years.”