BLM Head Honcho Says About 100 Employees Have Agreed To Move West

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley testifies in front of the House Natural Resources committee about the proposed BLM reorganization.

Nearly two-thirds of the Bureau of Land Management's Washington, D.C.-based staffers — whose jobs have been relocated to offices in the West — have agreed to move, according to a letter from acting BLM director William Perry Pendley to employees.

In the letter, obtained by CPR News, Pendley wrote he is "encouraged and happy" about that number.

One hundred and fifty-three existing staff were told in November that they had to move or look for other jobs. Pendley doesn't provide an exact figure in his letter, but the math works out to around 100 employees relocating. He said, of the rest, some are still looking for a D.C.-based position to move into and others have already found new jobs. Some will retire or have resigned from the federal government entirely.

"For those who did not accept relocation, we are taking many steps to assist you and hope you will continue to work with us in exploring the opportunities available to you. Please know we are committed to helping you in this difficult time," Pendley wrote.

He said the BLM will hold a hiring fair in the new year to help employees find other Interior Department positions in Washington, D.C.

The first two transferred employees are already in place in Lakewood, Colorado and Phoenix, according to Pendley's letter. A timeline for the rest to move isn't provided.

It also does not include details of how many of those accepting the transfer will go to the new BLM headquarters in Grand Junction. Approximately 40 people will work there once it's fully staffed up, more than the 27 jobs BLM originally said will move, according to a report in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. Pendley told the BLM staff he will be in the West Slope city by the beginning of January.

Critics of the BLM move have warned that if the most career staff don't accept the reassignment, the result will be a dangerous brain-drain at the agency. A leading Congressional critic of the plan announced in mid-December that the Government Accountability Office will investigate the move.