Interior and Ag Departments to Reorganize?

Wow. Need more details on this….

Zinke previews agency reorganization

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today fleshed out plans to reorganize the sprawling department, pitching lawmakers on a “joint system” that would shift federal employees from Washington to the field.

The revamp would create 13 “joint management areas,” Zinke told his former colleagues at a House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.

Each of the areas would be small and, when possible, ecosystem-based.

“We’re trying to push more of the authority out in the field and redesign Interior,” he said. “These smaller areas can focus on the problems that are within their smaller regions.”

Instead of reporting to their respective regional offices, each of Interior’s bureaus and the Department of Agriculture would coordinate to better serve the local land, water and wildlife issues in each area.

The move mirrors how U.S. federal agencies coordinate to fight wildfires. Eight agencies and organizations operate out of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Last week, Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue toured the facility.

The reorganization also resembles the Department of Defense practice of joint commands, a system the former Navy SEAL has experience with.

Zinke said USDA is on board with the proposed system. Under the plan, the Forest Service would remain part of Agriculture and a simple memorandum of understanding would cover the agency’s participation.

Zinke asserted the staffing shifts would not cost any money nor technically need congressional approval. But he told lawmakers he intends to reach out to Congress, “because it matters to us all to make sure we go ahead and do it right.”

He told House Republicans and Democrats the consolidation would reduce permitting hurdles, give federal officials more latitude to focus on regional issues such as invasive species, and enable Interior to better use resources appropriated by Congress for ecosystem-specific projects.

3 Comments

  1. (1) I have to agree, in planning, the BLM would do analyses of situations and the FS and state would be partners (somewhat – all the money was theirs) and the FS would do similar analyses with the BLM and state being partners. The poor states would wonder “why are the feds so disorganized and waste so much money?”. We would sigh and say “that’s the way it is, the $ come down from DC in separate pots, and the idea of sharing “our” pots with other agencies is not within the bureaucratic standard mindset.”

    (2) Now if someone higher than Zinke would require Interior, Commerce, DOE, Agriculture, EPA and NSF to coordinate their research on similar public lands related topics.. wow, that would really free up $ for more and better research!

  2. Some of this is reminiscent of how Jack Ward Thomas wanted to re-organize the Forest Service more by ecosystem – there was some rearrangement of Research Station boundaries and the Southeastern Research Station was combined with the Southern Research Station, but for reasons that I can’t recall, the changed delineation of regional boundaries didn’t happen. Does anyone remember the reasons why that didn’t happen?

  3. I can tell you that (Assistant Secretary of Agriculture) Jim Lyons’ proposal to shut down the Missoula regional office (combining it with Ogden) didn’t go over well in Montana and with its senators. I think it was an accumulation of that sort of thing.

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