On Thursday, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) signed a lease for permanent office space at 805 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri to serve as the new home for USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“We’re excited to announce ERS and NIFA’s new, permanent home in downtown Kansas City, Missouri and provide clarity on commute times and work-life balance for our employees,” said Secretary Perdue. “Both agencies have been hard at work in the Beacon Center after relocating to the region over a month ago, and signing this lease is an important next step to facilitate their long-term efficiency, effectiveness, and service to our customers. The region is not only a hub for agriculture in America’s heartland, but is also already proving to be a diverse talent pool in proximity to many land-grant and research universities. I’m confident Kansas City will continue to be a great home for the future of ERS and NIFA.”
90 percent of USDA employees are located outside of the D.C. area, and prior to their relocation, ERS and NIFA were the only USDA agencies that did not have representation outside of the National Capital Region (NCR). While headquarters for both agencies remain in the NCR, portions of ERS and NIFA relocated to the Kansas City region on September 30, 2019. Since that time, both agencies have been housed in space currently utilized by USDA and will remain in that space until the build-out of the permanent office is completed. There is already a significant presence of USDA and federal government employees in the region, including the Kansas City ‘Ag Bank’ Federal Reserve.
USDA worked with GSA to secure a permanent lease space through a competitive process in the Kansas City region. With this new lease in Kansas City, the federal government will realize significant savings which can be attributed to lower lease costs in the Kansas City region and to improved efficiencies resulting in a smaller physical footprint realized through the co-location of the two agencies. Additional savings were realized due to the commitments of local and state stakeholders, including the State of Missouri; the Missouri Partnership; the Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri (“PortKC”); the City of Kansas City, Missouri; the Kansas City Area Development Council; the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City; Kansas City Power and Light/Energy Company; and the University of Missouri.
In August 2018, USDA announced it would undertake the relocation of ERS and NIFA for three main reasons:
- To improve USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities. USDA has experienced significant turnover in these positions, and it has been difficult to recruit employees to the Washington, D.C. area, particularly given the high cost of living and long commutes.
- To place these important USDA resources closer to many of our stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington, D.C. area.
- To benefit the American taxpayers. There will be significant savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets.
On June 13, 2019, Secretary Perdue announced the Kansas City region as the selected location. As part of the rigorous site selection process, USDA narrowed the 136 Expressions of Interest received using a set of established criteria defined by USDA, ERS, and NIFA leadership. The criteria included assessments of quality of life, capital and operating costs, workforce, and logistics and IT infrastructure. For additional information on site selection, please view the Secretary Perdue Announces Kansas City Region as Location for ERS and NIFA press release.
Out of 329 total ERS positions, 76 positions remain in D.C. while 253 positions are in Kansas City. Out of 344 total NIFA positions, 21 positions remain in D.C. while 323 are in Kansas City.