WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Warren Davidson of Ohio’s 8th Congressional District is introducing a bill Thursday that would require the head of each executive agency to relocate outside of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
U.S. Representative Ted Budd (R-N.C.) will be co-introducing the “Drain the Swamp Act of 2017” with Davidson.
One of the goals Davidson discussed today is this bill becoming a cost-savings measure.
“This is one of the most expensive cost-of-living areas in the country,” Davidson said.
Government buildings are facing infrastructure issues, and Davidson said that one of the items they are going to look at is if it will be cost-effective to build new infrastructure in different parts of the country versus refurbishing their current buildings.
“I think … you’re going to spend generally less on just about everything,” Davidson said, citing support staff, employees, and cost-of-living expenses. “And you’re going to de-concentrate the swamp.”
Davidson first looked at the example of the Department of Agriculture, saying that it could be located in an agriculture-rich state, like Ohio or Nebraska. The same idea applied to other departments like the Department of the Interior, where those agencies would be in the same culture that they are overseeing, which Davidson described as getting “out of the bubble” or the “D.C. group-think.” The workforce of those agencies could be living more of the same day-to-day issues as people affected by those departments, Davidson said.
Davidson said this could also be an opportunity for a hiring boom and investment in other parts of the country.
When asked about how many jobs could be lost, Davidson said that hiring boom could be due to those employees who did not want to make the move. Davidson also cited this as an opportunity for the heads of those agencies to scale down their operations and reduce the needs they have for people, instead looking to technology to replace those needs.
Davidson cited agencies that are currently doing this, such as the Federal Communications Commission, which has its main operations out of New York City, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is located in Atlanta.
In regard to continuing to advise Congress and the president effectively, Davidson cited corporate structures in the private sector that are able to run global corporations with a headquarters in one location and other operations elsewhere. Davidson said with the state of technology being where it is, “We don’t have to save time by being all in the same town.”
The bill would allow only 10 percent of employees of executive federal agencies to remain in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The bill defines that area as being located within the boundaries of the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in the state of Maryland; and Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William counties, and the city of Alexandria in the commonwealth of Virginia.
The bill would apply to all executive federal agencies in this area, but not federal agencies of the legislative or judiciary branches, such as Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court. The one current exception is that of the office of the president.
This would include also agencies such as the Pentagon and the CIA, which will need to take national security issues and staffing into consideration.
“The Pentagon is less than 10 percent of the Department of Defense workforce,” Davidson said, explaining that there is the option for the Pentagon to stay in its current location.
Davidson did not have specific answers to questions in regard to the cost of moving those agencies and how this might affect national security, saying instead that the secretaries of those executive federal agencies will need to research the implications of moving 90 percent or more of their agencies out of the D.C. area.
“Security is one of the considerations we take into account,” Davidson said. “The bill is really just an idea and is asking people to do research and see where that takes us.”
Davidson added that the bill has been “well-received so far.”
The bill will go onto be considered by the House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform.
Reach Sam Wildow at [email protected] or (937) 451-3336