GAO study questions relocation of USDA research agencies to KC

A recent analysis suggests the USDA’s selection process was flawed when it relocated two of its research agencies to Kansas City in 2019.

The Government Accountability Office says the USDA’s decision to move the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture wasn’t consistent with an evidence-based approach.

Courtney LaFountain, Assistant Director for GAO’s Center for Economics, tells Brownfield USDA didn’t factor in potential costs related to the attrition of staff or the disruption of the agencies’ activities. “Its estimates of the savings to taxpayers were likely unreliable,” she said.

Lawrance Evans, Managing Director of the Applied Research and Methods team, says GAO is not making any further recommendations at this time because the relocation has already taken place. “We do have some additional work underway, though, that is looking at how the relocation affected the agency’s human capital resources,” he said.

Evans says USDA disagreed with the criteria used to evaluate the agency’s economic analysis.

The full study can be viewed here.

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