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Senators push back on Treasury's plan to move 450 jobs from P.G.

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Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly

Maryland's U.S. senators are pushing back against the Treasury Department's plan to move 450 jobs from Hyattsville to West Virginia.

Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin wrote an open letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner calling for a stop to the plan, which would consolidate the Fiscal Management Service, based in Hyattsville, with the Bureau of the Public Debt, based in Parkersburg, W.Va.

"Moving 450 jobs out of Hyattsville would be a terrible loss for Prince George's County and the workers at FMS," the letter says. "This move is a direct hit to the middle class in Prince George's County, a middle class that FMS helped build."

Only 10 to 15 percent of the facility's workers will be able to move to West Virginia, the letter says.

The Treasury Department proposed the consolidation in February as a way to save money following federal budget cuts. The consolidation, which would begin in 2013, would save an estimated $36 million over five years, according to the Treasury. The two bureaus' data centers were merged in January.

According to the two senators, the Treasury cannot move forward until the House has approved changes to the lease at the Hyattsville facility.

"Treasury does not have the authority to go forward with this consolidation," the letter says. "We urge you to follow the law and the process. Stop this move."

Mikulski and Cardin were joined by Democratic Maryland Reps. Donna Edwards, Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen and Elijah Cummings -- who represent parts of Prince George's County -- in criticizing the plan.

Treasury spokeswoman Suzanne Elio declined to comment.

Sought-after federal office space is a sore spot for the county, especially after the General Services Administration rejected three Prince George's sites for the $450 million Health and Human Services headquarters lease last year.

"The federal presence is a significant portion of Prince George's County's economy," said David Iannucci, a member of County Executive Rushern Baker's economic development team.

While Prince George's residents make up 25 percent of the federal workforce, less than 5 percent of federal offices are within the county, according to Iannucci. "We think that's grossly unfair," he said.

Many local officials noted that President Obama has called for agencies to strongly consider transit-oriented development when searching for space. The General Services Administration, the government's leasing arm, and Metro reached an agreement last year to make it easier to bring a federal facility to a station primed for development. Branch Avenue and Naylor Road are two of the four stations that meet that criteria.

"It doesn't make sense for so many policy reasons," Iannucci said. "I'm sure the county executive is happy to see the senators taking this strong action."

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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