BLM issued an emailed statement to E&E News today stating it can’t address the number of employees agreeing to leave or stay until after the 30-day deadline Dec. 12.
But the feedback from employees and other sources provides insight into how the plan to relocate the headquarters out West, and closer to the lands the bureau manages, may affect BLM operations in the coming months.
And it appears likely that many D.C.-based employees have no intention to relocate to Colorado or eight other state offices in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. More than 200 positions are slated to move as part of the relocation plan announced in July.
Some BLM divisions will be left with only a handful of employees who agree to move, sources said.
But BLM, which in September leased an office in Grand Junction for the new headquarters, continues to push forward with the relocation plan.
The bureau has made a concerted effort in the past two months to fill numerous vacant positions that are moving to Grand Junction. It has advertised in USAJobs for the BLM chief of staff, senior policy adviser and senior litigation specialist positions, as well as assistant director of resources and planning. It’s not clear whether any of those positions have been filled.
Some D.C.-based senior officials are so concerned about a massive “brain drain” at the bureau, they are taking matters into their own hands by developing “playbooks” that will “describe what we do” for the many new senior-level officials replacing those who do not move, said a current BLM official who asked not to be identified.
“We’re losing a lot of great people because they are just not able to move due to various reasons and family needs,” the official said. “We’re also losing a lot of corporate knowledge on what we do. So we’re talking about developing playbooks about what we do. There’s so many leaving, we’re going to forget about what we did in the past and how we do it. They’re all going to be new people.”