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Former Head Of New England EPA Office Worries About Staff Retention, Recruitment Post Shutdown

Federal workers are back in the office Monday after a government shutdown that lasted 35 days. However, the former administrator of New England’s Environmental Protection Agency office is still worried about the agency's ability to compete for top talent.

The federal government reached a deal Friday to end the shutdown for at least the next three weeks.

However, Curt Spalding, former head of the New England EPA office during the Obama Administration, is still concerned the shutdown could cause scientists to leave the EPA for more stable jobs elsewhere.  

"After (members of the staff) go through a couple of these (shutdowns), they say, 'Well, no, I’m going to go work in the private sector. I’m going to go work somewhere where, one, I know my paycheck is guaranteed, but two, I know I’m valued,'" Spalding said.

Spalding said because of the impact to the staff's morale, there could be impacts to the quality of EPA's current and future work.

 "You want the best and the brightest to be working for you, and in fact they’re working for all of us, and when you have something like this, it makes it a lot harder to recruit and retain top talent," he said.

Spalding said a government shutdown can be especially disheartening for younger scientists just starting out. 

Environmental Protection Agency building in Washington, D.C.
Environmental Protection Agency building in Washington, D.C.