Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Corporatized WI DNR Further Downgrades Enforcement, Independent Science

This email from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp to all staff is further indication of the agency's politicized disinterest in environmental protection and subsuming of science to business considerations.

It's symptomatic of the agency's falling esteem.

Note in the memo that the DNR's Division of Enforcement and Science is eliminated, and science division personnel will report to business services, according to the email text, below:

From: Lamers, Holly J - DNR On Behalf Of Stepp, Cathy L - DNR 
Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 2:31 PM 
Subject: A Message from The Secretary ... Law Enforcement and Science Services 
Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 2:31 PM 
Subject: A Message from The Secretary ... Law Enforcement and Science Services 
Dear Colleagues, On behalf of the Department Leadership Team, I am excited to announce an important organizational effectiveness measure that will take effect immediately: The Division of Enforcement and Science will be eliminated as a Division and its component parts – Law Enforcement and Science Services – will report to the Secretary’s Office. 
As you know, Tim Lawhern recently retired from the position of Administrator of the Division of Enforcement and Science. As any healthy organization would do, the Department Leadership Team (DLT) took this opportunity to examine the effectiveness of the long-standing structure of the Division to ensure it was providing the best internal and external service delivery and alignment to agency priorities. 
The DLT concluded that streamlining the reporting structure for both Law Enforcement and Science Services would benefit both service delivery and alignment of priorities. 
Law Enforcement – Our men and women in gray are perhaps the most recognized face of the Department. In addition to their conservation and environmental enforcement activities, they play a vital role in ensuring the safety of our recreational public, and respond to all manner of emergency situations. 
As a result of these important roles, a close working relationship and communication flow with agency leadership is critical. 
To accomplish this, effective immediately, the Chief Warden will report directly to the Deputy Secretary. 
Aligning Law Enforcement as a direct report to the Secretary’s Office will have the following benefits: 
•             Enhances organizational communication; 
•             Connects Law Enforcement directly to the DLT; 
•             Improves timeliness of enforcement actions; 
•             Enhances customer service at the community level;
•             Better utilizes fiscal resources; 
•             Improves operational efficiency; 
•             Eliminates duplicative relationships; and 
•             Is consistent with other Law Enforcement organizations.  
Science Services – The Department’s highest priority business decisions must be informed by sound and up-to-date science. While we are proud of the efforts that the science branch of the organization has produced to date, the Leadership Team believes our Science Services program must be better positioned in the agency to ensure alignment of effort and funding to priorities. 
To accomplish this, effective immediately, the Bureau of Science Services will become a part of the Office of Business Support and Sustainability and report directly to the Office’s Director. 
Aligning Science Services as a direct report to the Secretary’s Office will have the following benefits: 
•             Locates Science Services in the Office within DNR that hosts other cross-division programs; 
•             Ensures research reflects the Department’s priorities; 
•             Allows for prioritizing funding to meet key research needs; 
•             Provides a broader perspective on agency research needs (e.g., fish, wildlife, environmental quality) and an opportunity for broader public input; and 
•             Maintains synergies that occur due to Science Services staff being housed together. 
Matt, Gundy, Al, and I look forward to enhancing the vital roles that both Law Enforcement and Science Services have for the agency. 
Cathy Stepp 
WI Dept of Natural Resources 
Madison, WI 53703(608) 267-7556 


Betsy said...

We are in deep trouble. This is distressing.

CJ said...

The timimg is in alignment with the the challenges to the GTac permiting process and the abestiform found in the Penokees
. Science will report to the secretary.... This is VERY alarming.

Cheryl said...

So this realignment will ensure that Science Services will produce research that "reflects the Department’s priorities." So they should stop working on research that protects water quality, fish and wildlife, and natural areas and instead ensure that no business is affected? This is seriously scary and not surprising given that Stepp and Moroney are both developers. Moroney while he was at Metro Builders essentially was head of the "flat earth society" at most meetings just continuing to repeat that there was no scientific research that buffers protected water quality and created wildlife habitat despite the fact that there are probably thousands of studies (if not tens or hundreds of thousands) that prove the opposite. Because everyone knows that if you keep repeating a lie enough time it becomes the truth. We've already seen this with their proposed gutting of the Shoreland regs, and with removing protections for Butler's garter snakes and Blandings Turtles that just "get in the way" of developers. This seems like its going to further facilitate the slide of the WDNR and mass migration of good employees out of the agency. We have an $8-12 billion water based tourism industry in this state. They should care about those jobs too and not just making a buck for their developer friends.

clyde said...

The comment from CJ, asserting that "Science will report to the secretary", appears to be in error. The "Bureau of Science Services" portion of the previous - now eliminated - "Division of Enforcement and Science" will now be contained within the "Office of Business Support and Sustainability", and will "report directly to (that) Office's Director".

In any case, this bureaucratic shuffle sounds both inappropriate and ominous, on its face. But the most revealing part is the explicit directive in this memo from the current politically appointed DNR Secretary that this change is intended to "ensure(s) research reflects Department priorities".

Scientific research should first and foremost reflect truth and reality, not politicians' priorities, and/or perceived needs and desires of profit-seeking special interests.

We need government that is of, by, and for the people - not government that is by and for the corporations and the super-rich.

Anonymous said...

Another big backward Stepp for Wisconsin.

Anything goes in Walkers Wisconsin.

Elections matter folks, find a candidate.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Al Shea in charge of Science Services. Never saw that coming. I know you won't post this but let me tell you - this isn't good.

Anonymous said...

Excited indeed. Walker and his Toadies are excited that they can gut and exert more control over science and enforcement. Such arrogance, such hubris. Why don't they just be honest and say that we are here for our corporate masters and when we get done looting Wisconsin maybe we can partake in their plunder.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I am skeptical of any announcement that uses the word "synergies". Always used to conceal something.