NTEU Supports Proposed Rule to Limit Agency Relocations

Press Release March 22, 2024

WASHINGTON – Federal agencies considering moving offices to distant locations would have to first consult employees, analyze the cost and ensure that the move would not result in massive staff departures or loss of diversity, under requested regulations endorsed by NTEU.

A pending petition with the Office of Personnel Management urges OPM to establish rules to prevent ill-advised relocations that force federal employees to either move hundreds of miles away or lose their jobs. NTEU, in a Wednesday letter to OPM, endorsed the petition from Democracy Forward.

“These protective measures would help ensure that any relocations are not taken for improper reasons, such as undermining our civil service. Federal employees and the public deserve a stable, professional workforce,” wrote NTEU National President Doreen Greenwald.

The previous administration ordered office relocations without regard to how they would impact agency operations and staffing levels. As examples, USDA offices and one agency within the Department of Interior lost hundreds of skilled, experienced employees and damaged the agencies’ ability to serve taxpayers. One administration official at the time bragged that agency relocations were a “wonderful” way to shrink the federal workforce. 

If adopted, the petition would require agencies to “document the evidence and data” supporting a relocation, involve employees in the process and take steps to retain employees, such as offering remote work. 

The petition states: “Standardized requirements will preserve continuity in the executive branch, increase the likelihood of productivity and efficiency through periods of change, and prevent decision-making that might incapacitate federal agencies or undermine the statutes and personnel regulations that encourage government service and protect civil servants.” 

Separately, NTEU has endorsed legislation which would require agencies to conduct and publish a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis before undertaking any relocations. The Conducting Oversight to Secure Transparency (COST) of Relocations Act is sponsored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia.

NTEU represents employees in 35 federal agencies and offices.