To avoid another wave of disruption, the Kansas City office will likely stay – there are many new employees who have taken the jobs there and do not want to return to Washington. The pandemic has shown one thing: government, like millions of businesses, can function largely remotely. At least that’s what USDA employees are asking Biden and Vilsak to do. “If ERS mandated that everyone in KC move to DC, that would be a disservice,” a current ERS employee told Politico. “Ultimately, many in KC are happy and don’t feel like moving. And if Covid has shown something, we can work together successfully from a distance.”
There are at least 400 positions to be filled to bring the staff up to the level of the Obama era. So the team has to find out quickly. It is possible that some of the deceased employees may come back and want to go back to work. “Most of us are still having problems,” said Laura Dodson, an economist at the agency and incumbent vice president of the ERS workers’ union. “New employees cannot replace all of the tasks and responsibilities of the former employees. Many of us are overworked and overworked and cannot train new employees due to the high workload. […] The only way I can see is that we can reinstate former employees in the district. “
Robert Bonnie, former Undersecretary of State for Natural Resources and Environment in the Obama Administration, and other climate and resource experts participated in a review process called the Climate 21 Project, which recommended a review of the Kansas City move, and not just staffing needs, but the “demoralized workforce” has caused all the chaos. They are also requesting a third party review of the project status to determine what has been moved or canceled and needs to be restarted. “The forced relocation to Kansas City has also resulted in dozens of reports and millions of research grants being delayed or sunk, holding back critical climate change and other research,” the group said in a memo to the Biden transition team.
Bringing research on climate change back and, after four years of Trump derailment, getting back to where research should have been by now will require massive efforts. So you’re trying to heal the entire USDA. And that has to happen in every government department. The next year won’t be a picnic for anyone.