As we reported in two recent Spotlight pieces, President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposes consolidating two U.S. Department of the Treasury bureaus—the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD) and the Financial Management Service (FMS)—into a single organization with a budget of $308 million. Once merged, these two operational arms of Treasury’s Office of Fiscal Service will simply be named the Fiscal Service.
When they announced the proposed consolidation in February 2012, Treasury officials said they expected the move to save $36 million over five years “through management, administrative and support service efficiencies.” While the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted the proposal earlier this summer, full Congressional approval is needed before funding can be appropriated and the plan can be implemented. A final decision probably will not be made for several months, since Congress is expected to pass a several-month FY2013 Continuing Resolution sometime in September.
Plans for the merger are proceeding, however, in a manner that has West Virginia leaders breathing a sigh of relief while those in Maryland and Prince George’s County are fuming. On August 22, a BPD spokesperson announced that Treasury will relocate 450 jobs from the FMS office in Metro Center II at 3700 East West Highway in Hyattsville, Md., to BPD’s operations center at 200 Third Street in Parkersburg, W.V., over a three-year period that may begin as early as next summer or as late as February 2014. The jobs to be relocated consist primarily of accounting and information technology positions as well as some management functions and related support departments. The BPD spokesperson said the move is expected to save the federal government $96 million over a five-year period.
West Virginia Democratic Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin both released statements on August 29 applauding the decision. That same day, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) issued a news release expressing her disappointment with the decision; Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, as well as Reps. Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen and Elijah Cummings (all Democrats) attached statements in which they also condemned the move. While the Maryland representatives slammed GSA for the decision, a GSA spokesperson told the Washington Business Journal that GSA played no role in deciding where to locate the merged functions, noting that Treasury had acted on its own.
There is at least one more chapter to unfold in this story. The FMS’ 393,000 rentable square foot lease is due to expire at the end of this month and congressional prospectus approval is required for the agency to extend the lease for the three to five years required to affect the transition to Parkersburg. Rep. Donna Edwards, whose district is squarely impacted by the relocation, has vowed to fight the move, which she describes as “direct redlining [by GSA and FMS] that is going on in the suburban metropolitan area, in Maryland, in Prince Georges County”. Her emotional floor speech at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee markup hearing on July 26th led her fellow congressmen on both sides of the aisle to agree to remove the FMS prospectus from the list of resolutions the House had slated to approve. Donna Edwards has vowed to fight this move and the lease extension prospectus will require the approval of the committee on which she serves.