The Department of Agriculture announced that it has signed a lease for permanently relocating the headquarters of two of its agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
The new headquarters will be at 805 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.
Out of 329 total ERS positions, 76 positions remain in D.C. while 253 positions are in Kansas City. Out of 344 total NIFA positions, 21 positions remain in D.C. while 323 are in Kansas City.
The USDA had announced previously that it was relocating the agencies out of the Washington, DC area and affected employees would have until September 27 to decide whether or not to move or take a buyout offer from the agency. The decision was controversial, not just because of relocating some agencies and their employees, but also because the amount of the buyout offer was reduced, thereby providing less financial incentive for impacted employees to accept it.
Both the ERS and NIFA have been housed in space currently utilized by USDA and will remain in that space until the build-out of the permanent office is completed. USDA worked with the General Services Administration to secure a lease for the facilities in Kansas City through a competitive process.
Among the arguments in favor of moving ERS and NIFA to Kansas City were the cost savings. USDA said that the federal government will realize significant savings which can be attributed to lower lease costs in the Kansas City region and to improved efficiencies resulting in a smaller physical footprint realized through the co-location of the two agencies. A previous cost cost benefit analysis showed that conservative estimates show a savings of nearly $300 million nominally over a 15-year lease term on employment costs and rent or about $20 million per year.
“We’re excited to announce ERS and NIFA’s new, permanent home in downtown Kansas City, Missouri and provide clarity on commute times and work-life balance for our employees,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Both agencies have been hard at work in the Beacon Center after relocating to the region over a month ago, and signing this lease is an important next step to facilitate their long-term efficiency, effectiveness, and service to our customers. The region is not only a hub for agriculture in America’s heartland, but is also already proving to be a diverse talent pool in proximity to many land-grant and research universities. I’m confident Kansas City will continue to be a great home for the future of ERS and NIFA.”