Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The Government Accountability Office will review plans to relocate the Bureau of Land Management from Washington, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said on Wednesday.
The public lands agency of the Department of the Interior has been headquartered in Washington, D.C., since its start in 1946. A White House decision in June calls for its leaders and staff to relocate to Grand Junction, Colo., and to several field offices in Utah. Thursday is the deadline for Washington-based employees to decide if they will move to the West in the planned reorganization.
"The Government Accountability Office has agreed to review this move and determine if it was properly planned, analyzed, and whether it will deliver the benefits that the administration has been claiming," Grijalva said on Wednesday. He added that the movement of BLM headquarters is an attempt to "undermine" the agency's mission, adding that the decision was "not being made in good faith."
The proposed move to the West has been endorsed by many Republican leaders, as well as some Democrats as a means of getting more BLM administrators closer to the lands they oversee. A majority of BLM lands are in the West and are a part of matters concerning recreation economies, oil and gas development, Native American issues, grazing, animal management and catastrophic wildfires. Opponents of the move cite a reluctance of BLM personnel to leave Washington, and a resulting loss of institutional knowledge.
"The current plan [to move] by the department is radical, it's unnecessary, it's not well thought out," said former BLM Deputy Director Henri Bisson on Wednesday. "It's being dictated by political officials without regard for the long-term consequences, and will harm public land management for many years."