A decentralization study by the Carter administration recommends against major moves of federal operations, or jobs, from the Washington area.
But the new report, compiled by the Office of Management and Budget, does target 9,200 jobs in 13 agencies here that could be transferred to field locations.
If all of the moves were made, it would involve only about 3 percent of the federal work force in metro Washington, plus about 2,000 military personnel transfers.
OMB was required to make the decentralization study by the Civil Service Reform Act that went into effect last year. Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), a critic of big, centralized government, authored the decentralization study rider to the bill.
Various congressional committees have, for years, been urging federal agencies to move jobs and functions to the field -- often to the home towns or home states of influential committee chairmen. A number of federal agencies have transferred employes to other areas, sometimes for reasons of economy and consolidation and often under political pressure. (Navy, the second-largest employer in metro Washington, has a long history of locating facilities in places that pleased senior members of the Armed Services Committee).
THE OMB report is important because it satisfied the government's legal obligations to study decentralization but concludes that, in general, "physical relocation of a federal function is a complex, time-consuming and costly undertaking." The study points out that the government pays millions of dollars in relocation fees, moving and travel costs, and that job shifts from this area often hurt minority group members most.
In short, it is a thorough (83 pages) documented study essentially recommending the status quo. Most federal operations here were contacted and asked to comment on the feasibility-desirability of decentralizing, and to identify units that might be moved. Most came back with detailed statements saying moves from Washington would be costly and disruptive. However, 13 agencies and departments did come up with some functions that might be considered for relocation. They include:
Nearly 4,000 General Services Administration jobs here, led by 1,116 positions in the National Archives and Records Center; 1,076 jobs in Federal Supply Service; 789 Federal Prepardness positions; 500 Public Building Service jobs; 971 Comptroller Office jobs; 109 employes of the General Counsel's office and 290 in "Executive Direction."
Defense units targeted for consideration for decentralization include 348 civilians at the Army Engineering School, Fort Belvoir; 449 in the Arlington Hall Army Security Command; 105 in the Navy Fleet Material Support Office in Alexandria; 84 in the Marine Corps Personnel Support Activity, Arlington, and 68 Defense Mapping School civilians at Fort Belvoir.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission identified about 30 jobs in licensing, inspection and training.
Justice proposed 38 Drug Enforcement Administration jobs and 340 Immigration and Naturalization slots.
Health, Education and Welfare said decentralization might be good for 500 jobs in non-NIH research; 50 Social Security workers, and a number of other jobs in computer operations, drug abuse and alcohol community services.
The Labor Department proposed 150 jobs in various longshoreman black lung programs; 13 in federal contract compliance; 100 automatic data processing operators in the wage-hour division; 13 in standard enforcement, and 25 in pension and welfare.
Treasury said 64 jobs from its national office computer facility might be candidates for moves.
Housing and Urban Development suggested 152 persons in automatic data processing operations; 97 in accounting; 35 in personnel and 15 in records filing-management.
Department of Transportation said 55 jobs in the aircraft development division might be moved, including three administrative law judges with the National Transportation Safety Board and four air traffic safety investigators.
Interestate Commerce Commission offered 17 administrative law judges as possible relocates.
Office of Personnel Management identified 266 jobs, probably from its retirement division.
President Center in committed to stopping the flight of government from big cities to suburban locations. Over the past decade, the percentage of federal workers in the District of Columbia has remained at about 7 percent of the total federal population. The big growth has come in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Officials stress that there is no cause for panic, or for civil servants here to call their real estate agent. The decentralization proposal is, at this stage, only another study and it taps only about 3 percent of the jobs here (if everybody proposed were actually transferred).