Bureau of Land Management moves out West with top posts unfilled.

June 19, 2020

The Interior Department is struggling to fill top positions at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) despite assurances from officials that the agency’s relocation from Washington to Colorado is helping recruit top talent, according to an analysis and June 3, 2020 report by The Hill.

Interior Department leaders have told Congress that moving the public lands bureau to new headquarters out West has helped recruit more and better qualified candidates than ever before. But a review of more than 100 job postings finds the agency has failed to fill several top posts just a month before it plans to finish the relocation.

BLM has yet to hire four of the agency’s seven division directors. Each of the positions has been reposted after failing to hire a candidate.

Other top postings, like a division chief to manage the wild horse and burro program in Reno, Nev., have been reposted twice.

“If you have to re-advertise jobs, that’s a flag that either you’re not getting enough applicants or you’re not getting enough qualified applicants,” said Steve Ellis, who retired in 2016 after holding the highest career-level post at the BLM. “It generally telegraphs you have a weak list of candidates.”

The relocation plans initially aimed to move some 220 D.C.-based positions to Grand Junction, Colo., while scattering the rest across existing offices and leaving just 61 employees in the agency’s Washington office.

But figures provided to The Hill show that just 68 employees have agreed to make the move. The agency must now replace more than 100 BLM employees who have chosen to leave the agency rather than relocate.

BLM has said it hopes to complete the move to Colorado in July, a timeline that could be complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. And given the vacancies in the agency’s top echelons, employees who make the move may arrive without several directors in place.

What this means to you
BLM has yet to hire four of the agency’s seven division directors. Each of the positions has been reposted after failing to hire a candidate. Figures show that just 68 employees have agreed to make the move and the agency must now replace more than 100 BLM employees who have chosen to leave the agency rather than relocate.

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