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Best swamp-draining idea of the year: Move some federal agencies out of D.C.

December 23, 2016

One of the best ideas for 2017 is to move some federal agencies out of Washington and relocate them to other areas of the country.

The idea comes from Paul Kupiec of the American Enterprise Institute, and it makes sense on so many levels.

The FBI and Labor Department are seeking new multi-billion dollar headquarters in metro Washington.  Mr. Kupiec suggests that they instead be relocated to cities like Detroit, Cleveland or Milwaukee.  These could be the first two steps in a gradual decentralization of the entire federal bureaucracy. What a great idea!

Some of the advantages:

National security: In this age of terrorism, it’s a huge security risk for so many federal offices to be clustered together in the Washington metro area.  And with today’s technologies, there’s no reason the various federal agencies couldn’t be scattered around the country.

Payroll costs: Federal employees in the D.C. area receive a 24.78% premium over the base federal pay scale because they work in a high-cost region, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Move them to smaller cities with lower costs of living, and we ought to be able to save 25% in payroll costs alone.

Construction costs:  There are plenty of vacant buildings in other parts of the country that could house federal agencies.  This would save billions of taxpayer dollars.  These bureaucrats are supposed to be public servants (not our masters), so they shouldn’t be housed in swanky palaces anyway.  And if new construction were actually necessary, the land and building costs would be considerably lower away from metro Washington.

Combatting elitism.  Moving federal bureaucrats out of D.C. would connect them to the real people outside of the beltway.  Having less money and power concentrated in one place could help repair the huge distrust that citizens have for the Washington elite.

Better journalism.  The Washington press corps doesn’t do a good job of reporting with so many agencies housed competing for attention there.  Put a federal agency in some other city, and the local media would surely provide more intense coverage.

Scattering the feds among cities outside the beltway wouldn’t mean we couldn’t eliminate some departments whose very existence violates the constitution, as suggested here.

And Mr. Kupiec’s wonderful idea would fit nicely with my call for a “telecommuting Congress” in which members of Congress would work from their home districts rather than Washington, as described here.

  1. Gary Edens permalink


    But the BEST idea of the year was that America elected Donald J. trump as our president.

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Dottie Goodman permalink

    A brilliant no brainier. Hats off to Paul Kupiec and you.



  3. Robert Rogers permalink

    Moving Federal agencies away — way away — from Washington is an idea deserving to be dusted off and taken seriously. A couple decades or so Senator Robert Byrd, somewhat successfully pushed Federal agencies, most notably the C.I.A., to relocate some or all of their offices to West Virginia. An equally good idea would be for major news media outlets to move their HQ operations away from the Times Square epicenter.


  4. Tom Basso permalink

    What a great idea! With video conferencing, distance is zero anyway. Decentralizing the government does indeed make it less vulnerable to a nuclear attack and allows some in government to mingle with those taxpayers outside the beltway.


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