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DC Appleseed Center Update

Second Quarter 1998

733 15th Street, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-393-1158 Fax: 202-393-1495 email:

DC Appleseed Study Shows Federal Jobs Being Relocated Out of D.C.; New Federal Law Proposed to Reverse Trend
Federal Facilities Task Force
DC Appleseed meets with New Chief Medical Examiner

Federal Facilities Task Force

Linda L. Eastman (retired), General Services Administration
James B. Halpern, Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, PLLC
Alison J. Micheli, Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, PLLC
James vanR. Springer, Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP
Lawrence R. Walders, Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy, LLP
Joshua S. Wyner, DC Appleseed Center

Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.

DC Appleseed Study Shows Federal Jobs Being Relocated Out of D.C.; New Federal Law Proposed to Reverse Trend

On April 30, DC Appleseed released its latest report, Fulfilling a Promise: Stemming the Flow of Federal Facilities Out of the District of Columbia. The report finds that, since the founding of the District of Columbia, there has been a presumption — codified in law — that the core functions of the federal government will be located at the seat of government. Over the past two decades. that promise has been broken. as the number of federal jobs in the District has steadily dwindled. DC Appleseed’s report examines the causes and effects of the exodus of federal jobs and offices from the District, finding that:

The District (and the region) are losing federal jobs.

  • Since 1980, the District has lost 26,600 federal civilian jobs, or 11.8% of its federal civilian workforce at a time when the number of such jobs nationwide has remained steady.
  • During that same period, 1,300 federal civilian jobs were added in Maryland and 14,200 were added in Virginia, representing a 2% and a 22% increase, respectively.
  • Job losses in the District overwhelmed the suburban job gains, resulting in an aggregate loss of 10,600 federal civilian jobs in the metropolitan area.

The District relies heavily on the federal presence.

  • Sizable amounts of District revenues are generated by federal agencies and offices, including $100 million annually in property taxes indirectly paid by the federal government on property it leases.
  • The presence of federal facilities stimulates related private activities by trade associations, business visitors, and tourists, providing substantial tax revenue. For example, tourism alone generated $295 million in tax revenue in 1996.

Existing federal laws and regulations will do little to prevent further relocations out of D. C..

  • Existing laws mandate only that a portion of some Executive Departments remain in the District.
  • Existing executive orders are ineffective at keeping federal offices and jobs in the District.

DC Appleseed’s report concludes that the problem is not caused by the downsizing of the federal government, but rather by neglect of the unique economic needs resulting from the District's position as the nation’s capital. Members of Congress promote the interests of their constituents by influencing the federal government to relocate existing facilities to their home communities. While Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has done a remarkable job of increasing public awareness of — and combating — attempted relocations, the District’s limited representation in Congress (particularly in the Senate) makes it a prime target for regular attempts to remove federal jobs and offices.

DC Appleseed recommends adoption of a new federal requirement to reinvigorate the promise made by Congress when the District was created. Specifically, DC Appleseed recommends that the relocation of a substantial federal facility out of the District of  Columbia occur only if (1) the effect that the removal will have on the District and its economy is fully examined through formal procedures, and (2) a compelling need for the relocation is demonstrated, taking into account the detrimental effect those removals will have on the District.

As with its other projects, DC Appleseed will actively advocate the adoption of its recommendations. Over the coming months, DC Appleseed will work with others — including partners within the environmental and business communities — to increase public awareness on this important issue and convince policy makers to support its proposal. DC Appleseed hopes that its federal facilities project will thus begin a dialogue that will result. ultimately, in measures that prevent the federal government from weakening the District’s economy to such an extent that it will be unable to flourish as the federal city envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

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DC Appleseed Meets with New Chief Medical Examiner

As reported in the First Quarter 1998 Update, DC Appleseed has recommended changes in the governance of the District's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (“OCME”). Specifically, DC Appleseed proposes that the OCME be governed by a commission consisting of members of both public health and criminal justice organizations in the District that rely on the OCME’s services — including the Metropolitan Police Department, the Corporation Counsel, the Public Defender, the U.S. Attorney, the Department of Health, and local medical schools.

As part of its advocacy effort, DC Appleseed met with Dr. Jonathan Arden, the District’s new Chief Medical Examiner, on May 14. Dr. Arden told DC Appleseed that Chief Management Office Camille Barnett has taken initial steps in the direction recommended by DC Appleseed, establishing a commission to provide advice regarding management of the OCME. While the commission included representatives of a number of organizations detailed in DC Appleseed’s report, it does not include any criminal defense attorneys, who (like prosecutors) rely on the OCME’s findings. DC Appleseed’s expressed concern over this imbalance, and Dr. Arden stated that he would raise with Dr. Barnett the possibility of adding a representative from the Public Defender Service. Dr. Arden further invited DC Appleseed to remain involved in working on OCME governance issues.

Recognizing that Dr. Arden's appointment and the creation of an advisory commission are steps in the right direction, DC Appleseed nonetheless continues to believe that a fully empowered oversight commission is needed. In order to promote that recommendation, DC Appleseed expects to meet with Council member Sandra Allen and Dr. Barnett in the months to come.

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