Vindicated! GAO issues report critical of USDA’s treatment of the Economic Research Service
One of the great tragedies of the Trump Administration was its attempt to thoroughly destroy the Economic Research Service by moving it out of Washington DC to Kansas City, Kansas.
I wrote about this repeatedly a few years ago (see links at end)) as did—and does–AgriPulse.
USDA should have planned better for staff attrition when it moved the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Kansas City, in 2019, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report that notes the department “minimally involved employees, Congress, and other key stakeholders in relocating the agencies.” The controversial moves during the Trump administration were vocally opposed by many employees and outside groups that said USDA had not adequately justified its decision.
The GAO has now documented exactly what critics predicted.
Coinciding with the loss of staff in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, ERS produced fewer key reports, and NIFA took longer to process grants…Two years after the relocation, the agencies’ workforce was composed mostly of new employees with less experience at ERS and NIFA than the prior workforce.
In addition, a decline in the number of employees in certain protected groups persisted. For example, the proportion of Black or African American staff at NIFA declined from 47 percent to 19 percent (see fig.).
The report says ERS has recovered. I disagree. As far as I can tell, ERS still produces basic reports on farming but is no longer producing the kind of hard-hitting critical analyses of food and farming issues that it used to. I miss it. A lot.
Some (not all) previous comments on the ERS move
- We now have a chance to repair the damage done to the Economic Research Service
- One more time: the Economic Research Service tragedy
- The tragic destruction of the Economic Research Service, Continued
- USDA’s destruction of the Economic Research Service: A National Tragedy
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