Decentralize DC’s bureaucracy
The idea of moving pieces of the federal bureaucracy outside the beltway has long been a favorite topic of those who want to bring government agencies closer – in geography and culture – to the people they serve.
DC-based federal employees are less than keen on the idea, generally seeing a move outside the area as a nonstarter. But as Faith Bottum writes on the Wall Street Journal, decentralizing DC has never made more sense, or been so easy:
It makes little sense to have Zoom conferences only between offices on K Street and M Street. Over the internet, Indianapolis is as close as Dupont Circle. A federal agency would make a big difference to Detroit. Federal employees would materially aid Pine Bluff—just as they would help Spokane, Wash.; Rapid City, S.D.; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and Savannah, Ga.
Moreover, spreading out the American bureaucratic complex would benefit democracy. Too many executive agencies become politicized simply by their presence in the Beltway hothouse. Too much federalism is lost in the interlocking directorates and alphabet soup of Washington’s political culture. Decentralization would protect the nation against first-strike attacks, making the government harder to decapitate.
The age of telecommuting has made it possible for workers to locate just about anywhere there’s a good internet connection available. Only inertia (and a federal law barring relocation of agencies without congressional approval) prevents the federal government from moving pieces of the bureaucracy away from the Potomac Basin.
Time to change that – and bring government closer to the people who pay for it.