Zinke moves to drain the swamp at Interior Department

Zinke’s departmental shake up is not just your typical, run-of-the-mill reorganization that happens each time a new administration takes power. Zinke took over a department that has been dogged by controversy, corruption, and a reputation that prompts fear and loathing in the West.

posted by Marjorie Haun

Trump’s Interior Department Secretary, Montana rancher and former Navy Seal Ryan Zinke, is proving to be more than just a dramatic contrast to Obama’s Interior chief, liberal Democrat recreation industry exec., Sally Jewell. Zinke’s getting to work unraveling her legacy–and that of previous progressive predecessors–in short order. Beyond the Obama monument land grabs, which are currently under review as ordered by President Trump, with significant reductions and reversals in the works, Zinke is breaking up the bureaucratic status quo in his department’s upper echelons. On June 16, Greenwire reported:

Dozens of Senior Executive Service employees — career officials within the federal government — received letters yesterday informing them that they may be reassigned as early as June 28, the newspaper said.

“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,” said Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift in an email. She noted that Zinke mentioned the “Department-wide, front lines-focused reorganization on his first day address to all employees.”

It is not unusual for new cabinet members, who wield considerable power in reworking their respective departments, to shake things up, but Zinke is using his clout to shift manpower and influence out of Washington D.C. beltway bureaucracy into the ‘field,’ or those areas where federal policies have real-world consequences for states and localities. The Greenwire article says:

Last week, Zinke outlined his plans for reorganizing the agency under a “joint system” that would shift federal employees from Washington to the field.

Although Zinke is constrained by a 120 day grace period, it appears that he has had this plan on the ready for some time. Greenwire goes on:

According to the Post, the letters sent to as many 50 SES employees provided a 15-day notice of their looming job changes, as required by law. Zinke and all political appointees must wait at least 120 days following their confirmations to relocate any SES members. The Senate confirmed Zinke on March 1.

The newspaper reported that Interior Office of Policy Analysis Director Joel Clement, the top climate policy official, was among those to receive the notice and that he will be transferred to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

In addition, the Post said, several Fish and Wildlife Service officials received the notices, including Assistant Director for International Affairs Bryan Arroyo, Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, Southeast Regional Director Cindy Dohner and Office of Law Enforcement Chief Bill Woody, who will move to the Bureau of Land Management.

Tuggle and Dohner have both been involved in high-profile fights over how to recover gray wolf subspecies in their regions. Arroyo, who has been leading Fish and Wildlife’s fight against wildlife trafficking, last year was found by Interior’s inspector general to have potentially violated federal regulations by pressuring his staff into awarding a noncompetitive contract worth more than $256,000.

Zinke’s departmental shake up is not just your typical, run-of-the-mill reorganization that happens each time a new administration takes power. Zinke took over a department that has been dogged by controversy, corruption, and a reputation that prompts fear and loathing in the West. The Interior Department and its biggest agencies; the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, have overstepped and over-regulated for decades. Beyond a mere managerial overhaul, this move may signal Zinke’s philosophical re-calibration of Interior and its branches. Streiff, a reporter at  RedState, wrote about the changes this way:

Shifting 50 general-officer-equivalents is not a small undertaking. It represents an intention to totally demolish the existing power structure. By separating these long serving SES officials from the organizations they have run for perhaps decades means that there will be a lot less resistance to reorganization. Many of these people will resign rather than accept the reassignment. That is a feature, not a bug. By making this move before he has his own appointees in place, Zinke is signaling to the agency and to Senate Democrats that he will not be deterred by intransigence.

The RedState article acknowledges the little-discussed bog at the Bureau of Indian Affairs; one of the most inefficient and wasteful agencies of them all, which has escaped broader scrutiny only because it’s considered politically incorrect to discuss anything related to Native American policies in a negative light. RedState’s Streiff goes on:

The transfers that struck me were the Bureau of Indian Affairs positions. If there is a more corrupt, inept, and apathetic federal agency than BIA I really wish someone would point it out to me. BIA has resisted change of all types for decades, failing to serve either the Indians or the nation but doing quite well for themselves. Taking two of the top people out of there certainly clears the decks for action.

Zinke will, of course, still have to deal with these people after they are transferred but they will have been stripped of power and hubris and might be more willing to cooperate.

If there were to exist a top-ten list of federal agents, bureaucrats, or appointees guilty of hubris and unchecked abuse of power, at least half of them would probably come out of the Department of Interior, which for decades has grown more oppressive and less accountable in its tasks of managing vast amounts of American land and resources.

Although we don’t have  specific information on who will be sacked as a result of Zinke’s reorganization, we hope that the worst of the bad players will be held to account. The first power-mad fiend that should go is Dan Love, the BLM special agent who has wreaked havoc and left a trail of destruction everywhere he’s worked in the West. And there are many others who should be jettisoned out of the government and back into civilian life.

We’ve reported here at Free Range Report about those agents and bureaucrats with environmentalist entanglements and extremist ideologies that are incompatible with the proper role of the Interior Department; which is to facilitate game management, livestock production, and responsible resource development on public lands. President Trump’s election was based in large part on his promise to drain the federal swamp. Zinke may be initiating that process at the Department of Interior, and the sooner the better, because that is an unbelievably fetid, murky swamp to be drained.

Contact Secretary Zinke at the Interior Department and encourage him to drain the swamp with haste, starting with Dan Love.

Free Range Report


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  1. America would be better served to fire every BLM employee and turn public lands back over to the states. Then hold the states representatives responsible to maintain their constitutional oaths.

  2. BLM has to go. They are the goon squad for the pirates in Washington who sell uranium mining rights to Vlad the Impaler. When they don’t have enough people to shove the ranchers around, they hire thugs from Blackwater. They’re not supposed to own land yet they refer to public land as federal land every day and cause nothing but misery for ranchers trying to eek out a living. Give the land back to the state and watch them closely. BLM could very well be the cause of a revolution. They are nothing but jack booted thugs. OVERDOG

    1. The BLM is a good start, next the EPA, Department of Energy, Homeland Security, Department of Education, CIA, etc.

  3. Sounds good to me. The Constitution doesn’t give the federal gov’t the power to own parks, monuments, forests, rivers, seashores, etc., etc….therefore ALL of these federal lands should be given back to the States & they can administer them as they & the People see fit. Eliminate the Interior Dept. completely.

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