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Many USDA employees decline to relocate to Kansas City as deadline passes

Posted at 4:04 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 17:04:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The effort to bring hundreds of jobs from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City might be harder than officials first thought.

In June, the metro area won the selection process to be the new home for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS). As part of the move, nearly 600 jobs were expected to be transferred to the Kansas City area.

Officials have work to do to get to that number.

On Tuesday, a USDA spokesperson said that after a midnight deadline Monday, 72 employees had notified the ERS they were accepting the transfer, while 99 employees either declined or didn’t provide a response.

The department estimates that 76 ERS positions will remain in Washington.

The numbers were more stark for NIFA, where 73 employees accepted transfers compared with 151 employees who either said no or didn’t provide a response.

Twenty-one NIFA positions will remain in Washington.

The spokesperson said the final number of employees who will relocate will fluctuate through September. The report date for relocating employees is Sept. 30.

"These anticipated ranges were taken into account in the department's long-term strategy, which includes both efforts to ensure separating employees have the resources they need as well as efforts to implement an aggressive hiring strategy to maintain the continuity of ERS and NIFA's work," the spokesperson said in an email.

The original selection of the Kansas City region for the two governmental facilities was hailed as a win for the region by elected officials.

In a report Monday in The Hill, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said she believed the move was an effort to silence researchers' work into topics different from those of President Donald Trump's administration.