By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun
12:40 PM EDT, September 10, 2012
Maryland lawmakers are protesting a plan by the Obama administration to eliminate 450 federal jobs in Prince George's County, but it is unclear whether they will be able to reverse it.
The move to consolidate the Financial Management Services facility in Hyattsville with the Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg, W.Va., is expected to save taxpayers $96 million over five years, according to the U.S. Treasury.
The plan by the Treasury and the General Services Administration is set to begin in February 2014 with the relocation of 50 positions to West Virginia. The consolidation is expected to be complete by January 2015, with a total of 300 jobs in the new location.
Rep. Donna F. Edwards said she would fight for local workers.
"Our county can ill afford to be losing jobs at a time when the General Services Administration should be working to bring jobs to the area, especially around our Metro stations that are ready for this type of federal development," the Prince George's County Democrat said.
Edwards said she would "continue to demand transparency and fair-leasing practices on the part of the GSA to level the playing field. Prince George's County deserves the opportunity to compete fairly in the marketplace."
The Treasury said workers in Hyattsville would be offered the chance to relocate, take early retirement or a buyout, and would be given assistance in finding new jobs.
Between 200 and 300 jobs are to remain at the Hyattsville facility.
"We are sensitive to the impact this consolidation will have on employees at the facility and the community in Maryland, and we are prepared to take ample measures to assist all staff in the transition," said Treasury spokeswoman Suzanne Elio. "This step was taken to improve financial management throughout government."
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner laid out the details of the move in February as part of a plan to cut $286 million in the coming fiscal year.
The goal is to strengthen economic growth and identify "innovative ways to deliver essential services at lower costs to taxpayers," Geithner said in a statement. The new agency is to be called the Bureau of Fiscal Service.
The data centers for the Financial Management Service and the Bureau of Public Debt were merged in January, a move that is projected to save an additional $129 million over five years, according to the Treasury Department.
Members of Maryland's congressional delegation did not provide specifics when asked what actions they could take to reverse the decision, or whether reversing the decision was possible.
Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski said Maryland workers have institutional knowledge and a proximity to the capital that guarantees they will be well-trained.
"They deserve a government that is on their side, not hanging them out to dry," Mikulski said.
Cardin said he did not believe the move was "in the best interest of our nation."
"In fact, I think it makes sense to locate more federal facilities in Prince George's County, not in other states," he said. "I am deeply concerned by this proposed consolidation, and I will work to ensure that our federal workers are treated fairly."
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