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Census Bureau to Cut Regional Offices in Half

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The Census Bureau isn't waiting for the Obama administration to unveil its plan for reorganizing the federal government to do some reorganizing of its own.

In a post today on the White House blog, Gary Locke, head of the Commerce Department (which oversees the census), announced the bureau would eliminate six of its 12 regional offices, saving an estimated $15 million to $18 million annually, starting in 2014. The offices will be shuttered over the next 18 months.

Locke said about 330 of 7,200 Census employees would be "affected" by the restructuring, "with a net loss of approximately 115 to 130 positions." He added that most reductions "will happen through attrition, early retirements, or transfers to vacant jobs at Census headquarters or elsewhere across the federal government."

Under the plan, offices in Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Charlotte, Kansas City and Seattle will close. The remaining six offices, which will cover new boundaries, will be located in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.

It's not clear from Locke's post whether the plan requires the approval of Congress. But even if it doesn't, lawmakers tend to take an interest in the closure of federal facilities in their districts and may weigh in with legislative restrictions on restructuring.

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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