Saturday, April 28, 2018

Shake-up proposed of top leaders at National Park Service

A major management shake-up could be underway at the National Park Service, including the proposed reassignment of the veteran superintendent of Yellowstone National Park and six other senior executives, according to several individuals familiar with the plan. The transfers, which are not yet official, come just days after the Interior Department’s inspector general found that officials failed to explain why they shuffled 35 top Interior employees last June. That round of reassignments, which forced those staffers to decide on short notice whether to move or step down, prompted sharp criticism from Democratic lawmakers. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his deputies have emphasized that they see shifting Senior Executive Service (SES) officials to different locations as a way to invigorate the department’s approach to decision-making. But some career staff and outside advocacy groups have suggested such moves can, in some cases, amount to retaliation for employees who have spoken out against the administration’s policies — especially given comments by Zinke that he has “30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.” “These multiple moves resemble a purge and have no apparent management motivation other than to marginalize and disrupt,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a frequent critic of Interior during the Trump administration. Heather Swift, a department spokeswoman, said in an email Friday that the department had no announcements about personnel moves. She added, “Regarding SES moves in general, though, the Department is continually looking at ways to better utilize our workforce and senior leaders to improve the Department.” The individuals familiar with the changes, including some who have been briefed on the plan, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decisions have yet to be finalized by Interior’s Executive Resources Board. The board is composed of political appointees and department career staff. The shake-up would affect at least seven executives within the park system, the individuals said. While several shifts would involve moving officials to less prestigious posts, a few would be promotions...MORE

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