Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs
bob7947

S. 2592: Strategic Withdrawal of Agencies for Meaningful Placement Act of 2018 (SWAMP Act)

Recommended Posts

Stupid idea. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

That bill is not about acquisition, per se.

The sponsor is a Republican senator from Iowa. The bill is part of a strategy that is designed to limit or diminish the role of the Federal government in American life, either by stopping physical expansion of facilities or by physically dispersing agencies around the country rather than letting them expand facilities in and around D.C. The bidding process would almost certainly be subject to litigation pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, which could delay expansion of a headquarters and agency growth for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pepe, is it a good idea to prohibit any construction, major renovation or replacement of a headquarters for various executive agencies within the official seat of the US Government? Is it a good idea to let any state or subsidivision of a state submit “bids” to establish executive agency headquarters outside of the Seat of the government?  

Does that improve efficiency of government, reduce costs and promote effective oversight of agencies by the President or executive and congressional oversight agencies? 

Ive dealt with organizational entities for years, that have Offices, Divisions and other major sub offices far from the “flag pole”.  It doesn’t promote efficiency, consistency, effective oversight, evaluation of performance or compliance with policy, etc.

I recently worked on development of a project for a new HQ for one of the exempted agencies.  There was nothing efficient about it and much empire building involved. 

It would likely involve increased travel costs between the HQ and the Seat of Government.  

It would apply to any new construction or necessary major renovation of existing HQ for the affected agencies. Congress would have to specifically otherwise provide an exemption, by law.  

Obviously, this is a political move, so there will be differing opinions concerning the idea. The current policy is to have a Seat of Government for Federal Agencies to establish their HQs. 

Pepe, is draining the swamp by dissipating it a good idea?  Does it reduce costs? Does it promote efficiency in government? Does it help citizens interact with their government? 

 

 

Edited by joel hoffman
Eliminated assumption that Pepe thinks it is a smart idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

Think about 9/11 and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security by consolidating several existing agencies. Whatever you might think of DHS, would such a process have facilitated or impeded its performance of its mission?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DC has a higher locality pay compared to most of the US.  Retaining the same staff elsewhere would save costs via lower salaries, pensions, etc..  Also turnover should be lower.  Travel costs back to DC should be minimal and normally only necessary for upper management.  As an alternative to saving personnel costs, agencies could hire more staff and, theoretically, become better at the mission as a result.

 

Being geographically dispersed also provides a less concentrated target.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/4/2018 at 8:11 AM, joel hoffman said:

It would likely involve increased travel costs between the HQ and the Seat of Government. 

Joel, thanks for the reply. You restated the law several times, told a story about your personal experience, then asked more questions.

 

Thank you for editing to ensure you didn't assume PepeTheFrog thinks this is a smart idea. PepeTheFrog wants to consider the potential effects of the law.

 

My original question was "Why is this a stupid idea?" and you noted increased travel costs. That seems like a good prediction, but D.C. bureaucrats waste travel money under the current policy of having a "Seat of Government." Somehow, despite being concentrated in D.C., they still find a way to get to Las Vegas, Orlando, Seattle, Honolulu, etc. Either way, travel costs are a drop in the bucket for the full accounting of the costs and benefits of this law.

 

Can you think of any other problems with this law?

 

On 4/4/2018 at 8:11 AM, joel hoffman said:

Pepe, is draining the swamp by dissipating it a good idea?

Yes, if one thinks that the "swamp" is the subset of government that is wasteful, harmful, corrupt, or inefficient. Of course that's a "good" idea because it will accomplish the goal of draining the swamp. But that assumes one wants to drain the swamp.

This law seems to be about decentralizing the swamp, not draining it. 

One consequence of this new law would be that states other than Virginia and Maryland would get to suck more on the federal teat. Why should Virginia and Maryland get all the table scraps (federal jobs, contractor jobs, taxes, increased business, higher housing prices and rental costs, etc.)? 

Another consequence is that other cities in America could become "job and career meccas." Maybe it will improve impoverished or sluggish regions. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have seen examples of where certain functions of government are moved from Washington to other areas of the country.  For example, the Social Security Administration is located in Baltimore.  DoD's DFAS was centralized in Columbus, OH, elements of the FBI were moved to West Virginia.  Perhaps moving entire agencies out of Washington may not be a good idea in some circumstances, but why it could not be done with others, such as the regulatory agencies such as FCC or FTC, is an open question in my mind.  With modern communications capabilities, travel is much less a requirement than it was a few years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

Several agencies are exempted:

(i) the Executive Office of the President;

(ii) the Department of Defense, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National-Geospatial-Intelligence Agency;

(iii) the Department of Energy;

(iv) the Department of Homeland Security;

(v) the Department of State;

(vi) the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and

(vii) the Central Intelligence Agency.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

This is nothing but a purely political, anti-government, sugar-in-the-gas-tank bill. Look at the short title:

Quote

This Act may be cited as the “Strategic Withdrawal of Agencies for Meaningful Placement Act of 2018” or the “SWAMP Act”.

Note the phrase "strategic withdrawal." The sponsors hate Washington D.C. and all it stands for in their eyes. They hate the federal government and want to make life tougher for its bureaucracies, which they despise.

There's no point in complaining about this kind of thing. It'll pass or it won't.

But I hope you all recognize that this kind of thing is another sign that our constitutional system is breaking down. The clunky political machinery set-up by the founders is finally tearing itself apart: presidency, Senate, House, Supreme Court--the whole shebang. And they managed to make it impossible to fix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is not related to the legislation, but 17,000 FBI employees are moving to my neck of the woods, a LONG way from DC, over the next few years.  If Congress doesn't do it, the simple cost of doing business in DC will eventually do it for them.  It seems the old FBI building is practically falling down and would renovating it would cost more than moving 17,000 employees to the hinterlands. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards
18 hours ago, DWGerard1102 said:

17,000 FBI employees are moving to my neck of the woods

There goes the neighborhood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's why it would be a good idea:

  1. It would spread the wealth to the entire country, not just DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  Look at the last recession and note how the DC area was relatively untouched;
  2. Telecommuting makes physical location of the workforce much less important.  Travel costs are irrelevant, as every dollar spent on travel to DC would be offset by reduced travel from DC;
  3. It would increase the diversity of the work force, politically and otherwise;
  4. It would make the federal government less of a remote and detached entity from its citizens, literally and figuratively;
  5. It would help address the Agency Problem by placing  Agents geographically and culturally closer to their Principals.  (Dept. of Interior for example).

I have participated in and conducted numerous studies commissioned by DC leadership in both Defense and Civilian agencies.  The one consistent theme was  that not only was  leadership not cognizant of what was going on with the constituents  outside DC who relied on their services (USCIS for example),  they weren't even cognizant of what was going on outside DC in regard to the workings of their own agencies.  

(For the record, I have worked with and for  20+ agencies in every branch of government inside the DC beltway for the last 25 years, in addition to living here)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×