The Department of the Interior released its long-awaited reorganization proposal on Wednesday, a plan that calls on separating the agency into 12 “unified regions.”
In a memo sent to the Interior Department’s 70,000 staffers, Secretary Ryan Zinke unveiled his plan to streamline the agency by shifting offices across the country into 12 unified regions. The proposal aims to manage the Interior Department via watershed and ecosystem boundaries instead of state lines.
“Our new Unified Regions will allow important decisions to be made nearer to where our stakeholders and intergovernmental partners live and work, and will make joint problem-solving and improved coordination between our Bureaus and other Federal, State, and local agencies easier,” Zinke explained in the staff-wide email, adding that the new plan will “reduce bureaucratic redundancy, will improve communication between our experts in the field and leaders in Washington, D.C., and will allow us to share our knowledge and resources more effectively.”
The new management map, which can be found on the Interior’s website, has been in the works for months. The Interior Department had submitted its reorganization proposals to the Office of Management and Budget as early as September 2017, and Zinke had announced the overhaul in January. (RELATED: Trump Is Reorganizing The Federal Government And His Interior Secretary Is Loving It)
The unified regions map is meant to better organize a department that has been characterized as inefficient and cumbersome by the Trump administration, however, critics counter that the proposal will be costly and result in employee layoffs. Zinke made clear in the email that no immediate personnel changes would take place.
“I want to reassure you that there will not be any office or personnel relocations during the initial implementation of our new Unified Regions, and your reporting structure is unchanged during the initial implementation phase,” the secretary guaranteed in the memo.
The process outlined in the memo will take place over the coming months and Zinke will be working with U.S. lawmakers in Congress — including key Democrats — to win over their support.
“In the next few months, many of our senior executives will be working in each Unified Region and focusing on and designing core elements of its operations, depending on the actual circumstances on the ground,” Zinke continued. The Interior secretary, who has long complained that too many bureaucrats lead from Washington, D.C., argues this new plan will establish more local control.
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