Shuffling the Swamp: BLM leaders shifted to other agencies in Interior reorganization

Alaska Director Bud Cribley, Colorado Director Ruth Welch and New Mexico Director Amy Lueders are among as many as 50 BLM and other Interior career officials notified this month that they are being transferred to different agencies or other positions within BLM…

Scott Streater

E&E News

3 BLM leaders removed in reorganization

The Bureau of Land Management is reassigning the directors of the Alaska, Colorado and New Mexico state offices to positions at other federal agencies as part of an Interior Department reorganization that sources say is only beginning.

Alaska Director Bud Cribley, Colorado Director Ruth Welch and New Mexico Director Amy Lueders are among as many as 50 BLM and other Interior career officials notified this month that they are being transferred to different agencies or other positions within BLM, multiple sources with knowledge of the moves told E&E News.

The Senior Executive Service officials were told of the transfers earlier this month and given 15 days, or until Wednesday, to either accept the transfers, retire or resign (Greenwire, June 16). Additional transfer notices will be coming as soon as this week, sources said.

BLM and Interior Department officials have declined to provide many details about the ongoing reorganization effort, or the transfers of SES employees to other federal agencies.

But reassigning three state directors represents a major administrative change for the agency. The trio at issue oversee 94 million acres of some of the most resource-rich and environmentally sensitive lands managed by the agency.

It’s not clear whether anyone has been named to replace the outgoing state directors.

Heather Swift, an Interior spokeswoman, declined to confirm that the state directors are being reassigned.

“I have no information on specific personnel matters at this time,” Swift said in an email.

But sources confirmed that Cribley is being transferred from the Alaska state office to an unspecified administrative position at the Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C. Cribley would have 60 days to move if he accepts the transfer, sources said.

Welch is being reassigned to an administrative position with the Bureau of Reclamation but will remain in the Denver area.

Sources also confirmed that Lueders is being transferred to an unspecified position at the Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, N.M. The Washington Post first reported Lueders’ transfer.

It’s not clear whether the three state directors have agreed to the transfers. Only Cribley, who first joined BLM in 1975, has been with the agency long enough to retire with full benefits, sources said.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has defended the transfers in general, telling reporters last week that he wasn’t firing anyone, but rather shifting people to jobs where their skills are better suited (E&E News PM, June 21).

Senior executives are required when they enter the SES to sign a form acknowledging they are subject to involuntary reassignments.

By statute, reassignments must comply with proper notification requirements of at least 15 days for a transfer to another SES job within the same agency and the same commuting area, and 60 days for a transfer outside the geographic commuting area.

“If you accept an SES position, you should be prepared to move,” Zinke said.

More moves coming

BLM acting Director Mike Nedd held a June 16 teleconference with members of the agency’s Executive Leadership Team to discuss the latest SES transfers and to prepare senior leadership for “one or two more rounds” of similar moves in the coming weeks, sources said.

A BLM source said a new round of agency transfers could come as early as Thursday.

Swift, in a brief email to E&E News, wrote that Zinke “has been absolutely out front” that transfers were coming since “his first-day address to all employees” in March.

They are part of an Interior agencywide reboot Zinke outlined in general terms this month that calls for reorganizing the agency under a “joint system” that would shift federal employees from Washington to the field (E&E News PM, June 8).

He has promised more details in the coming weeks.

“Personnel moves are being conducted to better serve the taxpayer and the Department’s operations through matching Senior Executive skill sets with mission and operational requirements,” Swift wrote.

Read the full article here

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  1. And Where is Rhonda Kharges, BLM Director of Harney County, Oregon,

    who, along with her husband Chad Kharges, Director of Malheur Refuge, Oregon,

    were instrumental in Amanda Marshall’s appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
    (where Jake Klonoski, Judge Ann Aiken’s son works):

    to have Dwight and Steve Hammond re-sentenced under terrorism statutes that were not meant for RANCHERS

  2. Kripps joins Pierre Lueders, who took gold at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, as the only Canadians to top an Olympic podium in two-man.

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