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Performance and Accountability Series:

January 2003:

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks:

Department of the Interior:


A Glance at the Agency Discussed in This Report

The Department of the Interior has jurisdiction over about 500 million 

acres of land—about one-fifth of the total U.S. landmass—and about 1.8 

billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf. The department is the 

nation’s principal conservation agency. Its overall mission is complex 

and includes

* protecting and preserving the nation’s natural and cultural 

* fulfilling the government’s trust responsibility to American Indians 

and Alaska Natives,

* conserving and protecting fish and wildlife,

* offering recreation opportunities,

* conducting scientific research,

* providing stewardship of energy and mineral resources, and

* fostering sound use of land and water resources.

The Department of the Interior’s Budgetary and Staff Resources:

[See PDF for Image)

[A] Budgetary resources include new budget authority (BA) and 


balances of previous BA.

[B] Budget and staff resources are actuals for FY 1998-2001. FY 

2002 are 

estimates from the FY 2003 budget, which are the latest publicly 


figures on a consistent basis as of January 2003. Actuals for FY 

2002 will be

contained in the President’s FY 2004 budget to be released in 

February 2003.

Source: Budget of the United States Government.

[End of Figure]

This Series:

This report is part of a special GAO series, first issued in 

1999 and updated 

in 2001, entitled the Performance and Accountability Series: 

Major Management

Challenges and Program Risks. The 2003 Performance and 

Accountability Series

contains separate reports covering each cabinet department, most 


independent agencies, and the U.S. Postal Service. The series 

also includes a

governmentwide perspective on transforming the way the government 

does business 

in order to meet 21st century challenges and address long-term 

fiscal needs. 

The companion 2003 High-Risk Series: An Update identifies areas 

at high risk

due to either their greater vulnerabilities to waste, fraud, 

abuse, and

mismanagement or major challenges associated with their economy, 

efficiency, or

effectiveness. A list of all of the reports in this series is 

included at the 

end of this report.

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-03-104, a report to

Congress included as part of GAO’s

Performance and Accountability Series


Department of the Interior

Why GAO Did This Study:

In the 2001 performance and accountability report on the 

Department of the Interior

(Interior), GAO identified important challenges facing the 

department in its 

management of ecosystem restoration efforts, Indian tribes, 

national parks, and 

land exchanges. The information GAO presents in this report 

is intended to help

sustain congressional attention and a departmental focus on 

continuing to make progress 

in addressing these challenges—and others that have arisen 

since 2001—and ultimately 

overcoming them. This report is part of a special series of 

reports on governmentwide 

and agency-specific issues.

What GAO Found:

The Department of the Interior has made inroads in resolving 

some of the

challenges we previously identified. However, several 

challenges have not

been adequately addressed, and two new challenges have 


deferred maintenance backlog and weaknesses in financial 


• Better management of ecosystem restoration efforts is needed.

Interior has taken steps to better manage ecosystem restoration 


It has adopted the National Fire Plan, identified the resources 

needed to

restore the South Florida ecosystem, and issued a plan to 


invasive species. However, more work is needed to address the 


wildland fire threat caused by the excessive fuel buildup; 


actions to improve the South Florida ecosystem restoration 

effort; and

establish an agencywide goal to control and eradicate invasive 


• Management problems persist in programs for Indians and island

communities. Interior’s efforts to properly account for Indian 


funds continue to be hampered by inadequate accounting and

information systems, and internal control weaknesses. Management

issues also impede tribes’ progress toward self-determination. 


also has varying responsibilities to seven island communities 

that have

long-standing financial and program management deficiencies.

• Data-gathering and concessions reforms are needed to improve

management of the national parks. The National Park Service has

received funding to start to build natural resource inventories

and has

hired a private firm to analyze its concession program. These 

are good

first steps. However, better scientific information on the 

condition of its

natural resources is needed, and persistent management problems 

in its

concessions program still need to be addressed.

• Management problems impede land exchanges and appraisals.

While a private contractor has studied Interior’s land exchange 


concerns still exist that land exchange appraisals do not ensure

the lands

are appropriately valued or that the public’s interest is 


• Deferred maintenance backlog needs to be addressed. Interior

faces a deferred maintenance backlog of between $8.1 billion 

and $11.4

billion. The agency has issued guidance to standardize deferred

maintenance estimates and repair priorities, but these efforts 

are new

and attention will need to be paid to how they are implemented.

• Financial management weaknesses need to be addressed.

Interior’s consolidated financial statements for fiscal year 

2001 received

an unqualified opinion. However, the auditors identified 15 


internal control weaknesses; 6 of which were material 


What Remains to Be Done:

GAO believes that Interior should

• continue its efforts of adopting joint strategies with 

other entities to 

address excess forest fuels,

• link critical strategic goals to interim goals in 

restoring the South 

Florida ecosystem,

• continue to reform Indian trust fund management and the 

tribal recognition 

process, and

• continue to devote attention to reducing a deferred 

maintenance backlog and 

improving financial reporting.

To view the full report, click on the link above.

For more information, contact Robert A.

Robinson at (202) 512-3841 or


Transmittal Letter:

Major Performance and Accountability Challenges:

GAO Contacts:

Related GAO Products:

Performance and Accountability and High-Risk Series:

This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to 


protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and


in its entirety without further permission from GAO. It may 


copyrighted graphics, images or other materials. Permission 

from the 

copyright holder may be necessary should you wish to 


copyrighted materials separately from GAO’s product.

Transmittal Letter January 2003:

The President of the Senate

The Speaker of the House of Representatives:

This report addresses the major management challenges facing the U.S. 

Department of the Interior as it works to strike a balance between its 

two basic mandates--to protect and preserve the nation’s resources for 

the benefit of future generations while at the same time accommodating 

demands for their use and consumption today. The report discusses the 

actions that Interior has taken and that are under way to address the 

challenges GAO identified in its Performance and Accountability Series 

2 years ago, and major events that have occurred that significantly 

influence the environment in which the department carries out its 

mission. Also, GAO summarizes the challenges that remain, new ones that 

have emerged, and further actions that GAO believes are needed.

This analysis should help the new Congress and the administration carry 

out their responsibilities and improve government for the benefit of 

the American people. For additional information about this report, 

please contact Robert A. Robinson, Managing Director, Natural Resources 

and Environment, at (202) 512-3841 or at

David M. Walker

Comptroller General 

of the United States:

Signed by David M. Walker:

[End of section]

Major Performance and Accountability Challenges:

In our January 2001 report,[Footnote 1] we identified four specific 

performance and management challenges that the U.S. Department of the 

Interior (Interior) faced. Our report focused on the department’s need 

to (1) improve the management of the ecosystem restoration efforts 

(wildland fires and restoration of the Florida Everglades); (2) address 

persistent management problems in Indian trust programs (accounting for 

Indian trust funds and promoting Indian self-determination); (3) 

improve management of the national parks (collecting data on the Park 

Service’s resources, deferred maintenance backlog, holding park 

managers accountable for achieving results, managing concessionaires, 

and structural fire program); and (4) address challenges in managing an 

expanding land base (land exchanges and budgetary difficulties due to 

an expanding land base).

Since our January 2001 report, the department has taken steps to 

address some of the specific performance and management challenges we 

previously reported. For example, in conjunction with the Secretary of 

Agriculture, it has established a Wildland Leadership Council to work 

to achieve consistent and coordinated efforts to implement the National 

Fire Plan. In addition, the department has made substantial progress in 

identifying the resources needed and the agencies accountable for 

specific actions in the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem 

(which includes the Everglades). Furthermore, it is working to 

implement a plan for controlling invasive species that was developed by 

the National Invasive Species Council in January 2001. The department 

has also issued a report to the Congress containing a plan for 

accounting for all Individual Indian Money accounts. Also, the 

department has allocated funds to the National Park Service to set up 

its Natural Resources Inventory and Monitoring Program to develop 

needed information on basic natural resource inventories. The National 

Park Service is also continuing to improve its efforts to catalogue 

cultural resources and preserve historic sites. Finally, the department 

has taken steps to improve the appraisal process for land exchanges by 

contracting with a consultant to review its procedures and recommend 


In 2003, the department continues to confront many of the same 

challenges that we identified in 2001. Although some of the specific 

nature and examples under each of the four management challenges that 

we identified in 2001 may have changed, the overall challenges remain 

the same. For example, fighting wildland fires (ecosystem restoration) 

and accounting for Indian trust funds continue to be significant 

issues. In addition, for this update of the Performance and 

Accountability Series we have added two new management challenges for 

Interior concerning (1) deferred maintenance and (2) material 

weaknesses in internal controls over financial reporting. Specifically, 

the department continues to face the following major management 


[See PDF for image] - graphic text:

[End of figure] - graphic text:

Improve Management of Ecosystem Restoration Efforts:

To achieve its departmentwide mandate for protecting and preserving the 

natural resources under its management, the department has developed 

long-term goals of restoring the health of public lands and maintaining 

ecosystems. To accomplish these goals, the department will need to 

restore significant national ecosystems to health by addressing the 

growing wildland fire threat to communities and resources caused by the 

excessive buildup of fuels in forested ecosystems, such as those 

located in the interior Western states; restoring the South Florida 

ecosystem, which includes the Everglades; and controlling and 

eradicating invasive nonnative species.

Ecosystems typically transcend the administrative boundaries of lands 

managed by individual agencies in the department, as well as those of 

other entities, such as states, communities, and private landowners. 

Thus, the department’s ecosystem management approach requires that all 

parties collaborate to develop common visions of desired conditions for 

ecosystems, as well as strategies and plans to implement these visions. 

The department recently joined other entities in adopting strategies to 

address excessive forest fuels and has several large ecosystem 

management plans underway, such as the restoration of the South Florida 

ecosystem. The department has also identified the growing number of 

invasive species as a serious ecosystem health threat to the lands and 

resources it manages.

Wildland Fire Challenges Still Persist:

Traditional management practices and the suppression of naturally 

occurring fires that clear out undergrowth led to abnormally high 

accumulations of forest fuels (largely brush and small trees) in recent 

years. The increase in forest fuels has resulted in the outbreak of 

more large, uncontrollable, and catastrophic fires that have destroyed 

homes and seriously damaged soils, habitat, and watersheds. Although 

firefighters were successful in suppressing 99 percent of all fires 

during initial attack in 2002, catastrophic fires occurred and because 

catastrophic fires respect no jurisdictional boundaries, their control 

requires the coordination and collaboration of many federal, state, 

local, and private entities. Controlling catastrophic fires poses two 

difficult management challenges to the Department of the Interior. 

First, there is the need to reduce accumulated fuels through a 

combination of reintroducing fire that nature historically used for 

this purpose (prescribed burns), and through mechanically removing 

fuels where re-introduction of historic fire patterns is undesirable 

(mechanical thinning). Second, there is a need to ensure that, until 

abnormal accumulations are reduced, the department is able to 

effectively and efficiently respond to the increasing numbers of large 

fires, including the use of models that accurately identify the 

geographic distribution of fire risks.

In 2002, we reported that, while the department undertook several 

initiatives to address wildland fire challenges, its efforts suffered 

from a lack of adequate performance measures on which to assess 

progress, as well as difficulties in identifying priorities because of 

inadequate data, models, and organizational structures for coordinating 

with other entities.[Footnote 2] As a result, the department can 

provide no assurance that it is making meaningful progress towards its 

strategic goal of reducing the threats of catastrophic fires caused by 

excessive forest fuels. The Interior’s recent actions, including its 

partnership with the Secretary of Agriculture in establishing the 

Wildland Fire Leadership Council, are encouraging, but need to be 

monitored closely by the Congress to better ensure their success.

In 2001, the Department of the Interior and the Department of 

Agriculture (which includes the U.S. Forest Service) jointly adopted a 

National Fire Plan to address hazardous fuel problems as well as to 

address how to best manage large fires when they occurred. However, in 

January 2002, over a year after the Congress substantially increased 

funds to reduce hazardous forest fuels, we reported that the two 

departments had still not established clearly defined and effective 

leadership for implementing the National Fire Plan.[Footnote 3] 

Furthermore, the two departments did not collaborate in identifying and 

setting priorities for communities at high risk for wildland fire, as 

emphasized in the plan, and instead completed these tasks separately 

and differently. As a result, they could provide no assurance that the 

increased funding appropriated by the Congress for reducing hazardous 

forest fuel buildups was being allocated to the most seriously 

threatened communities. There is an ongoing debate over the amount of 

hazardous fuel reduction funds that should be devoted to wildland urban 

interface communities versus more remote areas. In January 2002, we 

also recommended that the Congress consider directing the Secretary of 

Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to establish an 

interagency council as recommended by the National Academy of Public 

Administration.[Footnote 4] In April 2002, the Secretaries established 

a Wildland Fire Leadership Council to work to achieve consistent and 

coordinated efforts to implement the National Fire Plan.

Because the council was only recently created, it is too early to tell 

whether this approach to leadership will succeed in overcoming the 

coordination problems that we identified. However, we note that the 

document creating the new council calls for each department to manage 

its own activities and resources in pursuing objectives, and that 

disagreements are to be resolved by elevating any disagreements within 

each department rather than to a single decision maker. This approach 

could potentially allow for the practice of pursuing separate, and 

therefore not necessarily coordinated, efforts to continue.

In January 2002, we also reported that the departments had not 

established performance measures for hazardous fuels reduction that 

allowed assessment of their progress and provided a means for ensuring 

that fuel reduction funds are spent in an efficient, effective, and 

timely manner.[Footnote 5] For example, without such performance 

measures, (1) high-risk communities have not been identified in order 

of priority, (2) multiple strategies have been developed with different 

goals and objectives, and (3) plans and reports have been developed 

that do not describe what will be accomplished with appropriated funds. 

Although officials from the departments told us they subsequently 

pledged to develop common performance measures and have been further 

directed to do so by the Office of Management and Budget, they also 

told us that their data systems may not allow them to do so, a problem 

that may take years to correct.

Similarly, in March 2002, we reported that the departments have not 

effectively determined the amount of fire-fighting personnel and 

equipment needed for responding to wildland fires.[Footnote 6] 

Officials base their resource allocation decisions on computer models, 

which currently include only information on equipment needed to fight 

fires within each individual unit’s boundaries and not equipment 

available in adjacent jurisdictions. The departments are in the early 

stages of replacing the models with an interagency, landscape fire 

planning and budgeting system that is expected to provide a single, 

uniform, and performance-based system for preparedness and fire 

management planning. We are encouraged by this initiative but remain 

concerned over its implementation because the departments have 

acknowledged that, even with aggressive scheduling, full implementation 

may take 4 to 6 years. Until then, fire management planning will not 

comply with current fire policy, will remain focused within the 

boundaries of each local federal unit, and continue to be conducted 

based on each department’s missions.

In March 2002, we also reported that about half of the individual land 

management units did not have up-to-date fire management plans, or any 

plans at all that would identify areas at high risk. The departments 

acknowledge the need to complete and update their fire management 

plans. Both departments have initiatives underway in response to the 

renewed emphasis on fire management under the National Fire Plan. 

Specifically, the departments are developing consistent procedures and 

standards for fire management planning that will assist local units in 

their efforts to have fire management plans that are in compliance with 

the national fire policy. In the summer of 2002, the departments had a 

strategy in place to accomplish this objective. However, developing the 

procedures and standards and incorporating them into fire management 

plans at all local units is not likely to occur until 2004, at the 

earliest. Because it has been 7 years since the 1995 policy first 

directed the departments to complete their fire management plans, and 

the departments have given the issue low priority, it is critical that 

the departments complete this initiative as expeditiously as possible.

To determine the funding needed for the resources necessary to fight 

fires, the departments need to have consistent methods of recording 

costs. Our March 2002 report found that the departments recorded costs 

using different approaches. As a result, it will be difficult for 

agency officials, the Congress, or other interested parties to develop 

comparable data for analyzing these costs or make meaningful 

comparisons of spending trends, further complicating effective 

oversight and monitoring of fire-fighting costs. Such oversight will be 

further complicated by the fact that, as in fuel reduction efforts, the 

departments have not developed performance measures that would help 

identify what has been achieved with the additional fire-fighting 

funding already provided by the Congress since 2000. The departments 

are now working together to develop a common set of wildland fire 

management performance measures that will be results-oriented, 

measurable, valid, and connected to the goals contained in the National 

Fire Plan. However, agency officials estimate that the planned 

completion date for developing and implementing these measures will be 

late in fiscal year 2004--more than 4 years after the increased funding 

was provided.

Management Challenges Hinder South Florida Ecosystem Restoration:

Management challenges could also hinder one of the department’s most 

significant environmental restoration initiatives--the restoration of 

the South Florida ecosystem. The restoration seeks, over 50 years, to 

increase the quantity of water and improve the quality of water 

currently being drained or polluted in the ecosystem. The restoration 

initiative also seeks to increase and restore natural habitats and to 

make urban and natural systems more compatible.

Because the ecosystem covers 18,000 square miles and overlaps many 

jurisdictions, the restoration requires the joint coordination and 

collaboration of many entities--federal, state, and local governments, 

Indian tribes, and private groups--to ensure the success of its various 

ecosystem management efforts. The Secretary of the Interior, as chair 

of a multi-agency task force on the restoration, facilitates and 

coordinates these multiple efforts. Figure 1 depicts the relationship 

of the entities participating in the restoration and the task force and 

shows the long-term strategic goals established by the task force to 

facilitate restoration.

Figure 1: Relationship of Entities in Restoration Efforts and Long-Term 


[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

In April 1999, we recommended that the task force develop a strategic 

plan to identify how the restoration will occur, what resources will be 

used, and how the overall restoration goals link to annual goals and 

resources.[Footnote 7] Congress, which directed the development of the 

strategic plan in response to our recommendations, requested that we 

review the plan. Our review of this plan found that the task force had 

made substantial progress in identifying the resources needed and the 

agencies accountable for specific actions.[Footnote 8] However, we 

found that the plan did not include several key elements, such as a 

discussion of how the third goal of restoration--fostering the 

compatibility of the built and natural systems--would be achieved or 

how the end results that the task force expects to achieve are linked 

to the restoration’s long-term strategic goals. The plan also did not 

link the strategic goals of the restoration to interim goals. The task 

force has continued to refine the strategic plan and, as part of its 

2002 update, included a discussion of how it plans to achieve the third 

strategic goal and a table linking the end results that it expects to 

achieve to subgoals and restoration projects. However, the task force 

still does not consistently use quantifiable or numerical starting 

points (baselines) or targets when discussing the end results or future 

conditions that it expects to achieve and has yet to establish interim 

goals that will allow it to gauge the actual progress being made. 

Including these elements in future updates of the plan would fulfill 

the requirement placed upon the task force by the Congress and provide 

it with a basis for better assessing the progress of the restoration 

and determining what refinements are needed.

In addition, the task force has not completed actions to improve the 

organizational alignment and control of the restoration initiative. 

Specifically, we recommended in 1999 that the department, as chair of 

the task force, develop a conflict resolution process to improve 

coordination among those participating in the restoration initiative. 

We also recommended, in 2000, that the department and the task force 

develop a joint plan to coordinate multiple land acquisitions. We 

believe that without both coordinating actions, individual restoration 

projects and the overall progress of the restoration could be delayed. 

For example, two critical projects to restore the South Florida 

ecosystem, underway since the early 1990s, have yet to be completed. A 

portion of one project, which will send more water through the lower 

end of Everglades National Park, has not been built because of 

disagreements over the amount and quality of water that will be 

involved. Another critical project was delayed because of a 

disagreement with private landowners over the acquisition of a key 

parcel of land. In an attempt to resolve these disagreements, the 

department and the task force have developed a conflict resolution 

process proposal that is still being refined, and, as of September 

2002, had not been finally approved. Similarly, the department and the 

task force have not yet approved a draft land-acquisition plan 

developed by a task force subcommittee. Although the plan has been 

discussed, as of September 2002, it had not been finally approved. 

Until final decisions are made on these issues, we cannot determine 

whether the actions will be sufficient to resolve our concerns.

Invasive Species Need to Be Controlled:

The department faces a growing challenge to ecosystem health in the 

form of invasive species--harmful nonnative plants, animals, and 

microorganisms. Invasive species, including the zebra mussel, the Asian 

long-horned beetle, and purple loosestrife, can cause serious damage to 

land, native species, other natural resources, and the economy. Such 

damage results from the displacement of native species--including 

plants, animals, and fish--with the nonnative species. In addition to 

inflicting substantial ecological harm, the budgetary cost of managing 

these species is high and is increasing. In fiscal years 1999 and 2000, 

10 federal departments spent over $1 billion on invasive species 

activities, including preventing the introduction of species, detecting 

species that have been introduced, controlling species that have 

spread, monitoring ecosystems affected by invasive species, researching 

methods to control such species, and other activities involving public 

outreach and information management. The department spent the second 

largest amount of funds on these activities: $18 million in fiscal year 

1999 and over $31 million in fiscal year 2000. Only the Department of 

Agriculture spent more on invasive species management--close to $500 

million in fiscal years 1999 and 2000, in large part to manage species 

that threaten agricultural crops and livestock.

Invasive species present a management challenge to the Department of 

the Interior because of the need to coordinate with many other federal 

agencies, states, and even private entities to effectively manage the 

problem. Invasive species can spread across federal, state, or private 

lands, and early detection and rapid response are needed to prevent the 

spread of new species and to control the further spread of species that 

have already taken hold.

Interior is one of three cochairs of the National Invasive Species 

Council, which issued a plan for managing invasive species in January 

2001. The plan includes tasks such as development of a national system 

for rapid response to new invasions and developing stronger 

partnerships among federal, state, and local agencies and private 

entities. In July 2001, we reported that the Department of Agriculture 

is the only federal department with a systematic rapid response process 

and that its coverage is primarily limited to pests affecting crops and 

livestock.[Footnote 9] Agencies with responsibilities for natural 

areas, such as the Department of the Interior and its agencies, often 

respond in an ad-hoc manner. Determining who will lead efforts and take 

on other rapid response responsibilities has hindered the ability to 

eradicate new infestations. For example, an infestation of giant 

salvinia--one of the most devastating aquatic weeds--found in the lower 

Colorado River in 1999 affected federal, state, tribal, and private 

land (see fig. 2). However, disagreements over which Department of the 

Interior agency would lead the response to the infestation contributed 

to a slow response and lost opportunity to eradicate the infestation.

Figure 2: A River Covered by Giant Salvinia:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

While several individual agencies within the Department of the Interior 

have goals to remove invasive species from their lands, the department 

has not established a similar departmentwide goal. According to the 

department’s Overview Strategic Plan for 2000 through 2005, the 

department envisions creating a departmentwide goal to address the 

challenge of invasive species. However, our work in October 2002 has 

shown that the council’s January 2001 plan does not have measurable 

goals; nor does the department’s strategic plan specifically include 

references to items from the national management plan that the 

department and its component agencies seek to accomplish.[Footnote 10] 

Without such goals, the department cannot ensure that its funds will be 

spent on the tasks identified for eliminating the most harmful or 

widespread species or that it has coordinated as efficiently as 

possible to accomplish this.

Increased demand for goods and services on federal lands, in addition 

to increased presence of invasive species, means that the department is 

likely to experience continuing conflicts and face many resource 

deterioration problems. In their attempts to protect and restore 

natural resources, the department and its agencies will likely continue 

to apply and refine the concepts of ecosystem management. To ensure the 

success of the approach, the department will need to address management 

challenges such as aligning its strategic plans, coordinating multiple 

agency goals, collaborating to achieve these goals, integrating data 

related to goals and measures, and more. The department continues to 

refine its strategic plans, long-term goals, and annual goals and 

measures, and it has stated that it will seek to create common, 

departmentwide goals. Accomplishing this would allow the department to 

depict progress toward the overall goal of protecting the environment 

and preserving the nation’s natural and cultural resources.

Address Persistent Management Problems in Programs for Indians and 

Island Communities:

As the department responsible for administering the federal 

government’s trust responsibilities to tribes and individual Indians, 

Interior manages $3 billion in Indian trust funds and provides more 

than $750 million annually for basic tribal services, such as social 

services, tribal courts, and natural resource management. Over the 

years, we have reported on the department’s poor management of Indian 

trust funds and programs. In the last 2 years, the department has taken 

specific actions to address management problems, but significant 

challenges remain. Despite the department’s efforts, inadequate 

accounting and information systems and internal controls, as well as 

other weaknesses prevent the department from ensuring the funds are 

properly managed. Management issues also impede the tribes’ progress 

toward self-determination, that is, tribal participation in and 

management of programs previously administered on their behalf by the 

federal government. In addition, the department has varying 

responsibilities to seven island communities--four U.S. territories and 

three sovereign island nations. The island governments have long-

standing financial and program management deficiencies.

Indian Trust Funds and Assets Need to Be More Effectively Managed:

The Secretary of the Interior administers the government’s trust 

responsibilities to tribes and individual Indians, including about $3 

billion in Indian trust funds and about 54 million acres of Indian 

lands. Management of Indian trust funds and assets has long been 

plagued by inadequate financial management, such as poor accounting and 

information systems; untrained and inexperienced staff; backlogs in 

appraisals, determinations of ownership, and record-keeping; the lack 

of a master lease file or accounts-receivable system; inadequate 

written policies and procedures; and poor internal controls. As a 

result, account holders have no assurance that their account balances 

are accurate or that the trust assets are managed properly.

In April 1998, the department launched a major initiative incorporating 

11 subprojects to solve these problems. The initiative called for 

correcting administrative records for trust accounts, clarifying land 

title and resource management information, eliminating probate 

backlogs, and reviewing and changing the appraisal system for trust 

lands. In February 2000, the department issued an update on its 

progress in implementing the 11 subprojects. According to the report, 

the department completed one subproject, which established a new trust 

fund accounting and investment system, and continued to make progress 

on the other subprojects.

In September 2000, we reported on the progress of another of the 

subprojects included in the initiative--the acquisition of a new system 

to manage trust assets.[Footnote 11] We found that the department had 

taken some steps to install the processes, practices, and discipline to 

successfully guide the acquisition. However, we found some shortcomings 

and recommended that the department develop key components of an 

information systems technology architecture and examine and revise the 

business processes that the system will support. The department 

reported in an August 2002 status report that the first phase of its 

architecture project had been completed and that documentation and 

planning initiatives to begin a formal “trust” architectural program 

within the department had been initiated. The status report also noted 

that the department, in an effort to reengineer its trust business 

processes, had begun creating an “as is” business model of trust asset 

management and that when the as-is model is completed, the department 

will, in partnership with tribal representatives, create a new model 

for trust asset management. Until these matters are fully addressed, 

the department will continue to face significant challenges to ensuring 

that the new trust system will operate efficiently and effectively.

In July 2002, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Historical 

Trust Accounting issued a report to the Congress containing a plan for 

an accounting for all Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts.[Footnote 

12] The plan proposes to gather transaction records, including as many 

as 500 million documents, to reconstruct the history of each IIM 

account. We reported in July 2002 that the department was likely to 

encounter obstacles, which could hinder its ability to successfully 

complete this endeavor.[Footnote 13]

Beginning in late 2001, the department’s efforts to reform the 

management of Indian trust funds intersected with the department’s 

overall problems with information security. On December 5, 2001, the 

effect of accumulated information technology security weaknesses 

resulted in a Temporary Restraining Order that required the department 

to immediately disconnect from the Internet all information technology 

systems that house or provide access to individual Indian trust data. 

Some of these systems were down for months. As of September 30, 2002, a 

small percentage of the department’s systems remained out of operation. 

Although the department’s consolidated financial statements for the 

fiscal year ending September 30, 2001, received an unqualified audit 

opinion, the management of Indian trust funds and information security 

were both reported as material internal control weaknesses by the 

financial statement auditors. The department also identified both of 

these issues as mission critical material weaknesses under the Federal 

Managers’ Financial Integrity Act. In our 2001 High-Risk Series, and 

again in our 2003 High-Risk Series update (see GAO-03-121, January 

2003), we identified information security as a governmentwide high risk 


Management Issues Impede Progress toward Self-Determination:

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is the primary federal agency 

charged with implementing federal Indian policy and administering the 

federal trust responsibility for 1.7 million American Indians and 

Native Alaskans. BIA provides basic services to federally recognized 

Indian tribes throughout the United States, including social services, 

child welfare services, and natural resources management. Between March 

2000 and July 2002, the number of federally recognized tribes eligible 

to receive services increased from 556 to 562. Administrative decisions 

to recognize new tribes became increasingly controversial because of 

land use issues and Indian gaming. Once tribes are recognized, they 

have two ways of influencing the programs that affect them. First, they 

can work with BIA to allocate a portion of BIA’s budget to programs 

that the tribes choose. The funds, which account for nearly half of 

BIA’s budget, are then distributed through a process called tribal 

priority allocations. Second, under the Indian Self-Determination Act, 

tribes can establish self-determination contracts to manage some of the 

programs that BIA has traditionally managed on their behalf.

The federal recognition of an Indian tribe can have a tremendous effect 

on the tribe, surrounding communities, and the nation as a whole. 

Recognized tribes and their members have access to about $2 billion in 

programs and services through BIA. Additionally, recognition 

establishes a formal government-to-government relationship between the 

United States and a tribe. The quasi-sovereign status created by this 

relationship exempts certain tribal lands from most state and local 

laws and regulations--including, where applicable, laws regulating 


In 1978, BIA established a regulatory process intended to provide a 

uniform and objective approach to recognizing tribes. The process 

requires groups that petition for recognition to submit evidence that 

they meet certain criteria--basically that the petitioner has continued 

to exist as a political and social community descended from a historic 

tribe. In November 2001, we reported that, because of weaknesses in the 

recognition process, the basis for BIA’s tribal recognition decisions 

is not always clear and the length of time involved can be 

substantial.[Footnote 14] We recommended that BIA provide a clear 

understanding of the basis used in recognition decisions and develop a 

strategy that identifies how to improve the responsiveness of the 

tribal recognition process. Without improvements that focus on fixing 

these problems, confidence in the regulatory process as an objective 

and efficient approach to making tribal recognition decisions will 

continue to erode. BIA generally agreed with our findings and 

recommendations and has developed a plan to improve the tribal 

recognition process.

Once a tribe is recognized, BIA’s budget formulation and execution 

process, specifically its distribution of tribal priority allocation 

funds, is not responsive to changes in the relative needs of the 

tribes. Furthermore, there is no assurance that the funds are 

effectively targeting the most pressing needs among tribes. In fiscal 

year 2002, about $750 million was allocated with the participation of 

individual tribes. In July 1998, we reported that BIA’s distribution to 

each tribe was based largely on historical factors, that is, the amount 

available to a tribe generally remained unchanged from year to 

year.[Footnote 15] This method did not consider a tribe’s changing 


In response to our July 1998 report, the Congress directed BIA to 

develop alternate methods of distributing tribal priority allocations. 

In its 1999 task force report on tribal priority funds, BIA 

acknowledged that funding inequities exist among the tribes but 

concluded--with the concurrence of the tribes--that the current 

distribution of funds should not be redistributed to address those 

inequities. Instead, BIA concluded that future increases in funding 

should be targeted at tribes that need greater funding. BIA is striving 

to develop program-specific criteria that could be used to target any 

future funding increases to tribes with the greatest needs.

To compound the tribes’ difficulties in collecting funds for self-

determination, tribes have not received adequate funds to cover the 

costs of supporting Indian self-determination contracts. Over half of 

BIA’s budget, including some tribal priority funds, is provided to 

tribes through contracts. Tribes use these funds to help pay for the 

indirect and administrative costs for contracts. However, total 

shortfalls in this area reached about $25 million in fiscal year 1997. 

These losses reflect a trend underway since fiscal year 1995. (See fig. 


Figure 3: BIA’s Contract Support Cost Shortfalls, Fiscal Years 1995-


[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Note: GAO analysis of BIA data.

According to tribes, these shortfalls have either forced a reduction in 

the services available to tribal members or caused tribes to use their 

own limited resources, thereby prohibiting the further development of 

tribal businesses or supplemental services. Most significantly, these 

shortfalls led the Congress to place a moratorium on contracting for 

BIA programs for fiscal year 1999. Although no moratoriums have been 

imposed since 1999, that course of action remains a possibility until a 

permanent solution to these shortfalls is found. To avoid further 

moratoriums, in our June 1999 report, we developed alternatives for the 

Congress to consider in funding contract support costs.[Footnote 16] 

The 106TH Congress considered a legislative proposal on contract 

support costs, but it was not enacted. We also recommended in our June 

1999 report that BIA and the Indian Health Service (within the 

Department of Health and Human Services) develop a consistent policy on 

contract support costs. Both the BIA and the Indian Health Service 

agreed that they need to develop a consistent policy on contract 

support costs. Staff with the Office of Management and Budget is 

reviewing BIA’s and the Indian Health Service’s policies on contract 

support costs. Unless these problems are resolved, they will likely 

continue to impede tribal contracting of programs.

Improve Effectiveness and Accountability for Island Programs:

The Secretary of the Interior has varying responsibilities to the 

island communities of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the 

Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; all of which are 

U.S. territories--as well as the Federated States of Micronesia, the 

Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, which are 

sovereign nations linked with the United States through Compacts of 

Free Association (Compact). The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carries 

out the department’s responsibilities for the island communities. OIA’s 

mission is to assist the island communities in developing more 

efficient and effective government by providing financial and technical 

assistance and to help manage federal-island relations by promoting 

appropriate federal policies. The island governments have long-standing 

financial and program management deficiencies. Specially, island 

governments experience difficulties in accurately accounting for 

expenditures, collecting taxes and other revenues, controlling the 

level of expenditures, and delivering program services.

In January 2002, we reported on the effectiveness and accountability of 

U.S. programs, loans, and services provided to the Federated States of 

Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.[Footnote 17] We 

found that 9 of the 13 programs, which had originally been designed for 

the United States, faced a variety of problems operating in developing 

island nations because of differing geographic, economic, and social 

conditions. Also, the two nations’ administration of the programs 

generally did not ensure financial accountability. In all, 9 of the 13 

programs we reviewed experienced accountability problems, including 5 

programs that experienced instances of theft or misuse of program 

funds. There were also shortcomings in the department’s oversight of 

these programs.

The United States and these two island nations are currently 

negotiating new Compact provisions. The Compact provisions that deal 

with economic assistance are scheduled to expire in late 2003. The 

U.S.’s Compact proposals address many of our recommendations for 

increased accountability, such as targeting grants to priority areas 

such as health, education, and infrastructure; defining the items to be 

discussed at annual consultations between the United States and the two 

countries; and requiring U.S. approval before either country can pledge 

or issue future Compact funds as a source to repay debt.

None of these management issues will be resolved easily or within a 

short time frame. The department will need to continue its efforts to 

resolve deficiences in its management of Indian trust funds and place a 

high priority on solving these problems. In addition, in response to 

reoprts from BIA, the National Congress of American Indians, and us, 

the Congress held hearings in the last few years and proposed reform 

legislation to address some of these issues. Indian self-determinationn 

will stay at the forefront of annual appropriations’ debates, as will 

the long-term debate over the course of federal Indian policy. In 

addition, the department will need to continue to work with the island 

communities to improve accountability and to improve the effectiveness 

of U.S. assistance.

Improve Management of National Parks:

The Department of the Interior, and specifically the National Park 

Service, has strategic goals to protect and preserve the natural, 

historic, and cultural resources entrusted to its care while providing 

the public safe and enjoyable visits. However, while the Park Service 

has made strides in addressing its management challenges, it continues 

to face significant management challenges. Currently, these challenges 

include giving a high priority to collecting better scientific 

information on the condition of its resources to ensure that its 

planning and funding processes address the most pressing needs and 

addressing persistent management problems in its concessions program.

The Park Service acknowledges the challenges it faces in both of these 

areas. The agency has begun a number of initiatives that should, if 

fully and properly implemented, go far in addressing the resource and 

concessions management challenges we have reported. However, while the 

initiatives now underway will help, as now planned, it will take years 

to get them fully and properly implemented. In the interim, the Park 

Service will need a sustained commitment to ensure that the remaining 

work gets done in order to realize the benefits of their efforts.

Park Service Does Not Know Condition of Many Resources:

A fundamental part of the Park Service’s mission is to be the caretaker 

of many of this nation’s most precious natural and cultural resources, 

ranging from the fragile ecosystems of Arches National Park in Utah, to 

the historic structures of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, to the 

granite faces of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Although the Park 

Service acknowledges, and its policies emphasize, the importance of 

managing parks on the basis of sound scientific information about 

resources, such information management is seriously deficient. 

Frequently, baseline information about natural and cultural resources 

is incomplete or nonexistent, making it difficult for park managers to 

clearly ascertain the condition of resources and whether resources are 

deteriorating, improving, or staying the same. At the same time, many 

park resources face significant threats, including air pollution, 

vandalism, and nearby land development. However, even when these 

threats are known, the Park Service has limited scientific knowledge 

about their severity and possible impact on affected resources.

According to the Park Service, steps are being taken to improve the 

situation. Specifically, the Congress is funding the Park Service’s 

Natural Resources Inventory and Monitoring Program to a level 

sufficient to develop needed information on basic natural resource 

inventories. This funding has enabled the agency to begin to build 

reliable natural resources inventories and baseline data that can be 

used, when completed, to monitor the condition of natural resources 

throughout the park system. In addition, increased funding for 

vegetation mapping has enabled the Park Service to increase its 

capacity to produce these vital inventories. The Park Service is also 

receiving funding that will permit it to continue to establish and 

develop a vital signs monitoring program in parks with extensive 

natural resources. Further, the Park Service is continuing to improve 

its efforts to catalogue cultural resources and has begun efforts to 

preserve many prehistoric and historic sites.

While each of these recent initiatives are positive and encouraging 

steps, the process of collecting and analyzing all of the information 

needed to have an adequate scientific knowledge base about park 

resources will take years and will be costly. Dealing with this 

challenge will require a long-term commitment from the Park Service, 

the administration, and the Congress to the priority now being placed 

on acquiring these critical resource data. Of course, doing this will 

require difficult choices about competing priorities, how parks are 

managed, and how budgets are formulated. However, unless it acquires 

better information on the condition of its resources--natural, 

cultural, and historic--the Park Service will continue to face 

difficulties in its efforts to (1) shift existing resources among 

competing priorities to accomplish its goals and objectives; (2) rank 

priorities so that the most pressing issues receive the most attention; 

(3) link the planning process directly to budget decisions to have a 

greater impact on the allocation of new limited resources; and (4) 

measure program results aimed at preserving and protecting the 

resources entrusted to it.

Management Problems Continue to Plague the Concessions Program:

Concessionaires play a critical role in providing services to many of 

the almost 280 million visitors to the national park system each year. 

Concessionaires are private businesses that operate under contracts 

with the Park Service to provide facilities and services, such as 

lodging, food, merchandising, marinas, and various guided services. 

Currently, there are over 630 concessionaires providing visitor 

services throughout the national park system. In fiscal year 2000 these 

businesses grossed over $800 million in revenues and employed over 

25,000 people during peak seasons.

For many years, we have joined the Congress, the Department of the 

Interior’s Office of the Inspector General, and Park Service staff in 

raising concerns about the need for better management of the agency’s 

concession program. In our March 2000 report, we identified fundamental 

problems with the Park Service’s overall approach to managing the 

concessions program.[Footnote 18] These management problems center on 

three areas: (1) human capital issues, involving inadequate 

qualifications and training of the agency’s concession specialists and 

concessions contracting staff; (2) acquisition management issues, 

including the agency’s out-of-date practices in handling its 

contracting workload and chronic backlog of expired contracts; and (3) 

organizational control issues, including a lack of accountability 

within the concessions program. Because of these management problems, 

the Park Service frequently has difficulty managing the performance of 

its concessionaires to ensure a consistent level of quality and safety 

in the services and facilities they provide.

To increase the effectiveness of the Park Service’s concessions 

management program, we recommended, in March 2000, that the Park 

Service improve the qualifications of its concession staff (including 

improving their training in writing and administering contracts), 

contract for these services, or use some combination of the two 

approaches. The agency could also contract for expertise in certain 

functions while developing expertise in-house for other functions. 

However, both options require that the Park Service better manage its 

human capital to ensure it selects, trains, develops, and manages 

concession staff with the skills needed to realize improvements in the 

program. The agency generally agreed with these proposals. In response, 

the Park Service has acted to address some of its concessions program 

management problems. For example, the Park Service has contracted with 

a private firm to analyze its organizational structure and advise it on 

reengineering its business processes. It is also developing a 

certification program in hospitality management with a focus on 

business and financial skills and a contracting certification program. 

Further, Park Service officials stated that they are recruiting 

students from top business schools to hire as full-time concession 

personnel where needed. In addition, the Park Service is considering 

contracting out complex financial components of the concession program, 

developing a funding strategy to address the need for centralized and 

consistent program oversight, and updating its contracting practices to 

include performance-based contracting. We believe that these actions 

are positive and encouraging steps and, when fully implemented, will 

help improve the agency’s ability to manage concessioner activities.

Address Challenges in Managing Land Exchanges and Appraisals:

The Department of the Interior manages the use of over 500 million 

acres of federal lands for many different purposes. The department is 

the steward of numerous parks, forests, grasslands, wetlands, and other 

natural areas, some of which are interspersed with state, local, or 

privately owned lands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 264 

million acres of public lands and the subsurface minerals on more than 

560 million acres. The Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for 92 

million acres of refuges and wetlands. The Park Service manages about 

80 million acres of parks, historic sites, monuments, and preserves. To 

protect and preserve the health of our public lands and to improve 

efficiency and remove barriers to resource protection and management, 

the department’s component agencies seek to consolidate and protect 

federal lands by acquiring, exchanging, or, in some cases, receiving 

donated lands. Land exchanges involve the mutually agreeable trading of 

federal lands for those owned by corporations, individuals, or state 

and local governments. While the sound management of land transactions 

is not one of the department’s strategic or performance goals, the 

department continues to encounter several difficulties when managing 

these transactions.

Over the years, the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General and 

we have determined that the land exchanges completed by BLM to date 

have not ensured that the lands being exchanged were appropriately 

valued or protected the public interest. In exchanging lands, federal 

agencies are required under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 

of 1976 to determine that the exchange serves the public interest. In 

addition, the law requires that the lands exchanged be of equal value, 

or equalized by a payment of money. Our work has shown that poor 

financial management and controls have resulted in exchanges that were 

not of equal value. For example, in July 2001, the Inspector General 

reported that BLM did not sufficiently emphasize the independence and 

objectivity of the appraisal process or ensure that appraisal reviews 

complied with appraisal standards involving a land acquisition in 

Utah.[Footnote 19] The Inspector General concluded that BLM’s appraisal 

approach did not provide assurance that lands were properly appraised 

and valued. In March 2001, we reported that appraisals the Park Service 

used for a land exchange in northern Virginia, incorrectly valued the 

land interests that were exchanged because of flawed assumptions about 

one parcel and an inadequate assessment of the other.[Footnote 20] Our 

assessment indicated that the Park Service could have received more 

than $15 million rather than owing the developer $14 million, if the 

exchanged interests had been appropriately valued.

Land exchanges are inherently difficult to manage because the lands 

being exchanged have to be of approximately equal value and because 

estimates of market value are difficult to determine, especially when 

the properties being valued are unique or when the market is 

speculative. This inherent difficulty, when combined with the 

deficiencies that the Inspector General and we found with the program, 

led us to recommend in a June 2000 report that the Congress consider 

discontinuing BLM’s land exchange program.[Footnote 21] As this has not 

yet occurred, we believe that this matter warrants continued attention 

from the department.

BLM has taken steps to improve the land exchange and appraisal 

processes. In 1998, BLM formed a team to review proposed exchanges that 

are of high value or are considered controversial. Currently, all land 

exchange proposals are to be reviewed by the state director and receive 

a technical review by the land exchange team. However, the national 

review team is not fully staffed--two of the three positions are 

currently vacant--making the effectiveness of the team questionable. In 

addition, the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management is 

now required to review all land exchanges valued at over $500,000. BLM 

has also revised the appraisal manual, revised its policies to require 

state certification of appraisers, provided appraisers guidance on 

conformity with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal 

Practice, and developed an appraisal training course that appraisers 

are required to attend. In addition, in early fiscal year 2002, BLM 

contracted with the Appraisal Foundation to conduct a review of the 

agency’s appraisal organization, policies, and procedures. BLM received 

a draft copy of the report from the Appraisal Foundation in August 

2002. In response to the findings in the Appraisal Foundation report, 

BLM, in October 2002, announced that it would undertake a 90-day review 

of all land exchanges that were in process or being considered. BLM 

also announced the formation of a comprehensive working group that will 

conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of the land exchange and appraisal 

process including an analysis of recommendations contained in various 

Inspector General and GAO reports. It is expected that the working 

group will report to the department specific changes in the land 

exchange and appraisal process.

Address Deferred Maintenance Backlog:

In addition to the challenges the department faces in adequately 

maintaining the natural resources under its stewardship, the department 

also faces a challenge in adequately maintaining its facilities and 

infrastructure. The department owns, builds, purchases, and contracts 

services for assets such as visitor centers, schools, office buildings, 

roads, bridges, dams, irrigation systems, and reservoirs. These assets 

include some deteriorating facilities for which repair and maintenance 

have not been adequately funded. The repair and maintenance on these 

assets has been postponed for years due to budgetary constraints. These 

unfunded repair and maintenance needs for the department’s facilities 

and infrastructure are referred to as the deferred maintenance backlog.

The deterioration of facilities can adversely impact public health and 

safety, reduce employees’ morale and productivity, and increase the 

need for costly major repairs or early replacement of structures and 

equipment. In February 2002, the department estimated that the deferred 

maintenance backlog was between $8.1 billion and $11.4 billion (see 

table 1). The maintenance needs for Park Service and BIA facilities 

account for over 85 percent of the departmentwide deferred maintenance 

backlog. Over the years, we have reported on (1) the Park Service’s 

inability to adequately assess the scope of its maintenance needs, (2) 

deficiencies in the Park Service’s structural fire safety activities, 

and (3) the deferred maintenance backlog for BIA school facilities.

Table 1: Department of the Interior’s Estimate of Deferred Maintenance:

Dollars in billions; [Empty]; [Empty].

Bureau; Estimated range of deferred maintenance.

Low estimate; High estimate.

National Park Service; $4.08; $6.80.

Bureau of Indian Affairs; 2.95; 3.04.

Fish and Wildlife Service; 0.84; 1.14.

Bureau of Land Management; 0.19; 0.33.

U.S. Geological Survey; 0.06; 0.10.

Bureau of Reclamation; 0.03; 0.03.

Total; $8.15; $11.44.

[End of table]

Source: Department of the Interior.

Park Service Does Not Know Extent of Maintenance Problems:

The Park Service maintains 16,000 permanent structures, 8,000 miles of 

roads, 1,500 bridges, 5,385 housing units, about 1,500 water and 

wastewater systems, 200 radio systems, more than 400 dams, and more 

than 200 solid waste operations. These facilities include numerous 

cultural and historic buildings and structures, complex utility 

systems, and an extensive network of roads and trails to be maintained 

at an operational level that ensures continued protection, 

preservation, and serviceability.

Despite the importance of its maintenance program, the Park Service has 

yet to accurately assess or define the scope of its maintenance needs. 

Since the late 1980s, we have reported on the Park Service’s inability 

to properly maintain its facilities. Even though a major part of the 

agency’s mission is being a steward for many of our natural, cultural, 

and historic treasures, it has not been able to successfully perform 

this critical part of its mission. In the meantime, the condition and 

utility of much of its invaluable assets are deteriorating. There are a 

number of contributory causes to this situation. Most important among 

them is that the agency does not have an accurate inventory of the 

assets that need to be maintained, nor accurate data on the condition 

of these assets. As a result, the agency is unable to determine what 

its maintenance needs are; how much money is needed to address them; 

and how much, if any, progress is being made toward closing the 

maintenance gap.

The agency acknowledges the problem and is developing an approach to 

address it. Spurred by congressional concerns and new federal 

accounting standards, the Park Service initiated the design of a new 

asset management process that, among other things, is to provide the 

agency with a systematic method for documenting deferred maintenance 

needs and tracking progress in reducing the amount of deferred 

maintenance. As now planned, this new process, will, for the first 

time, enable the agency to have a (1) reliable inventory of its assets, 

(2) process for reporting on the condition of each asset, and (3) 

systemwide methodology for estimating deferred maintenance costs. 

However, while the design of this new process is complete, it is just 

now being implemented. Consequently, while the new process is 

promising, its success cannot yet be determined.

The Park Service Is Not Meeting Safety Responsibilities in Many of Its 


The Park Service is responsible for ensuring that the buildings and 

artifacts entrusted to it are protected and that the people who visit 

or work in them are safe from undue hazards or risks. Today, the Park 

Service is the steward for over 30,000 structures and over 80 million 

artifacts nationwide. These structures include hotels, motels, cabins, 

visitor centers, interpretative centers, and historic buildings, such 

as many former presidents’ homes. However, we reported in May 2000 that 

the structural fire safety efforts in several national parks we visited 

were not effective.[Footnote 22] The Park Service’s structural fire 

activity lacks many elementary components required for any effective 

fire safety effort. These gaps include such fundamental things as 

inadequate fire training for employees, inadequate or nonexistent fire 

inspections, and--for many buildings--inadequate or nonexistent fire 

detection or suppression systems. These situations create many fire 

safety hazards. Such conditions jeopardize the safety of park visitors, 

employees, buildings, and artifacts, making the structures and 

artifacts vulnerable to fire that could inevitably cause damage, 

destruction, severe injury, and even the loss of life. For example, 

during our visit to the Ford National Theatre in Washington, D.C., for 

our May 2000 report, we found that boxes were impeding the 

effectiveness of fire sprinklers (see fig. 4).

Figure 4: Boxes Impeding Effectiveness of Fire Sprinkler in Storage 

Area of the Ford National Theatre, Washington, D.C.

[See PDF for image] - graphic text:

[End of figure] - graphic text:

In its February 2002 Annual Departmental Report on Accountability 

(which covered fiscal year 2001), the Department of the Interior 

identified the Park Service’s inadequate structural fire program as a 

mission critical material weakness.[Footnote 23] According to the 

report, to address this weakness the Park Service will develop and 

implement a comprehensive structural fire program plan as directed by 

Congress. The plan will include specific milestones to address the 

operational, organizational, technical, and staffing deficiencies 

cited in our May 2000 report and the July 2000 congressional hearing on 

the Park Service’s fire safety failures.[Footnote 24] The targeted 

completion date for this corrective action is 2004. The Congress should 

continue to monitor the Park Service’s progress in improving its 

structural fire program.

Deferred Maintenance for BIA Schools Continues to Be a Problem:

In school year 1999--2000, BIA had 47,080 students enrolled in its 171 

schools. Over 70 percent of the schools are located in four states--

Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In December 1997, 

we reported that BIA’s inventory of repairs needed for its educational 

facilities was $754 million.[Footnote 25] This estimate included the 

cost of repairs to all school buildings, including dormitories for 

students and employee housing. The needed repairs included, among other 

things, addressing health and safety deficiencies, providing access for 

persons with disabilities, and addressing noncompliance with other 

building codes. At that time, BIA’s deferred maintenance backlog was 

based on an amalgam of information collected by architects, engineers, 

and BIA staff over the years.

In September 2001, we reported that the deferred maintenance backlog 

for BIA educational facilities had grown to $962 million--an increase 

of about 39 percent since 1997.[Footnote 26] This revised deferred 

maintenance figure was validated by an independent engineering firm. 

More than $127 million of the backlog total represents deficiencies 

related to the health and safety of students, and a significant portion 

of this ($44 million) relates to fire safety alone. For example, the 

backlog lists buildings at more than 100 schools that need to have 

their fire alarm systems replaced or upgraded because they are old, not 

working, or missing. In fiscal year 2001, BIA received a total of 

$777.6 million to support the operations of its schools and address 

educational facility needs. This amount represented a substantial (30 

percent) increase over fiscal year 2000 funding levels. Nearly all of 

the increase was intended for the repair or replacement of school 

facilities; funding for school operations increased only moderately. 

Our September 2001 report also noted that, while the Congress had 

recently increased funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog 

for BIA schools, the budget allocations for the repair and maintenance 

of these facilities have generally been less than amounts recommended 

by national guidelines.

To address this departmentwide challenge, the department established 

the Interior Planning, Design, and Construction Council (Council) to 

study deferred maintenance. The Council consists of engineering and 

construction personnel from all the component agencies. In February 

1998, the Council issued a report entitled Facilities Maintenance 

Assessment and Recommendations, which detailed that there was no 

departmentwide consistency in maintenance and repair issues. From the 

recommendations in the February 1998 study evolved the Facility 

Condition Assessment guide to standardize component agencies’ deferred 

maintenance estimates, guidelines for prioritizing the repair of 

facilities with deferred maintenance, and Five-Year Facilities 

Maintenance and Capital Improvement Plans, which were first implemented 

in fiscal year 2000. In 2002 (for the development of their fiscal year 

2004 budget requests), the component agencies were asked to rank and 

prioritize projects with the highest emphasis on critical deferred 

maintenance needs in health and safety, resource protection, and agency 


Correct Weaknesses in Internal Controls over Financial Reporting:

The department’s independent auditors issued an unqualified opinion on 

the department’s consolidated financial statements for the fiscal year 

ended 2001. However, the auditors reported several concerns related to 

financial management in their audit of the department’s consolidated 

financial statements for the fiscal year ending September 30, 

2001.[Footnote 27] Theauditors’ consideration of internal control over 

financial reporting identified 15 reportable conditions; 6 of which 

were considered to be material weaknesses.[Footnote 28] Further, the 

auditors identified four instances of noncompliance with laws and 


The six reported material weaknesses involved (1) general and 

application controls over financial management systems; (2) timeliness 

of transaction entry and reconciliation; (3) controls over undelivered 

orders and accruals; (4) controls over property, plant, and equipment; 

(5) reconciliation of intradepartmental and intragovernmental 

transactions; and (6) Indian trust-fund management controls.

The department does not have adequate information technology security 

and general controls to protect its financial information systems, 

which could affect its ability to prevent and detect unauthorized 

changes to financial information, control electronic access to 

sensitive information, and protect its information resources. To its 

benefit, the department has issued security policies, accelerated 

programs with emphasis on trust and financial systems, fast-tracked 

development of certain aspects of the Information Technology (IT) 

Security Plan, and developed performance measurement criteria for IT 

security compliance.

The department does not consistently record financial transactions or 

analyze its financial records in a timely manner, nor does it routinely 

and consistently reconcile the general ledger accounts to subsidiary 

ledgers and other supporting documentation. In addition, internal 

controls were not fully implemented to ensure that obligations are 

liquidated and liabilities are accrued for goods and services received 

prior to the end of the reporting period and that funds are de-

obligated in a timely manner. Lastly, the department does not 

periodically reconcile its intradepartmental or intragovernmental 

activity and balances. The auditors made several recommendations for 

improving these areas, which the department hoped to implement in 

fiscal year 2002.

Property, plant and equipment (PP&E) is also a significant financial 

management concern for the department, with a reported $16.5 billion, 

net of accumulated depreciation, representing almost one-third of its 

total assets as of September 30, 2001. The auditors identified numerous 

issue areas where improvements are needed--including untimely recording 

of acquisitions and disposals, inefficiencies in reconciliation of 

subsidiary ledgers to general ledgers for PP&E, an ineffective 

inventory process, improper recording of transfers within and to the 

department, need for a complete and accurate inventory system to track 

land and land rights, inconsistent use of construction in progress 

reconciliations, and needed controls over recording of depreciation. 

Accurate financial information is crucial to making sound decisions and 

controlling assets so that the department’s mission and goals are 

efficiently and effectively accomplished.

The independent auditors’ tests for compliance with the Federal 

Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA) of 1996 disclosed 

instances where the department’s financial management systems did not 

substantially comply with federal financial management systems 

requirements, federal accounting standards, or the United States 

government standard general ledger at the transaction level. Further, 

the results of test of compliance with certain provisions of laws and 

regulations exclusive of FFMIA disclosed instances of noncompliance 

with the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the Prompt Payment 

Act, and Section 113 of Public Law 104-208-Advances for Interior 

Franchise Fund.

Successfully completing efforts to correct these material weaknesses 

and other reportable conditions will be a key milestone for Interior. 

Such efforts can help in identifying needs and anticipating changes in 

the financial and operating environment in order that timely and 

reliable financial and performance information can be produced on a 

routine basis.

[End of section]

GAO Contacts:

Subject(s) covered in this report: Improve ecosystem restoration 

efforts; ; Management issues impede progress towards self-

determination; ; Improve management of the national parks; ; Address 

challenges in managing land exchanges and appraisals; ; Address 

deferred maintenance backlog; Contact persons: Barry T. Hill, Director; 

Natural Resources and Environment; (202)512-3841;

Subject(s) covered in this report: Indian trust funds and assets need 

to be more effectively managed; ; Correct weaknesses in internal 

controls over financial reporting; Contact persons: McCoy Williams, 

Director; Financial Management and Assurance; (202)512-6906;

Subject(s) covered in this report: Security of information; Contact 

persons: Robert F. Dacey, Director; Information Technology; (202)512-


Subject(s) covered in this report: Improve effectiveness and 

accountability for island programs; Contact persons: Susan S. Westin, 

Managing Director; International Affairs and Trade; (202)512-4128.

Subject(s) covered in this report: Deferred maintenance for BIA schools 

continues to be a problem; Contact persons: Marnie S. Shual, Director; 

Education, Workforce and Income Security; (202)512-7215;

[End of section]

Related GAO Products:

Performance and Accountability Series:

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: A Governmentwide 

Perspective. GAO-01-241. Washington, D.C.: January 2001.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of the 

Interior. GAO-01-249. Washington, D.C.: January 2001.

High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-01-263. Washington, D.C.: January 


Preserving and Restoring Ecosystems:

Wildland Fires:

Wildland Fire Management: Reducing the Threat of Wildland Fires 

Requires Sustained and Coordinated Effort. GAO-02-843T. Washington, 

D.C.: June 13, 2002.

Wildland Fire Management: Improved Planning Will Help Agencies Better 

Identify Fire-Fighting Preparedness Needs. GAO-02-158. Washington, 

D.C.: March 29, 2002.

Severe Wildland Fires: Leadership and Accountability Needed to Reduce 

Risks to Communities and Resources. GAO-02-259. Washington, D.C.: 

January 31, 2002.

Reducing Wildfire Threats: Funds Should Be Targeted to the Highest Risk 

Areas. GAO/T-RCED-00-296. Washington, D.C.: September 13, 2000.

Fire Management: Lessons Learned From the Cerro Grand (Los Alamos) Fire 

and Actions Needed to Reduce Fire Risks. GAO/T-RCED-00-273. Washington, 

D.C.: August 14, 2000.

Federal Wildfire Activities: Current Strategy and Issues Needing 

Attention. GAO/RCED-99-233. Washington, D.C.: August 13, 1999.

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration:

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration: Substantial Progress Made in 

Developing a Strategic Plan, but Actions Still Needed. GAO-01-36. 

Washington, D.C.: March 27, 2001.

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration: A Land Acquisition Plan Would Help 

Identify Lands That Need to Be Acquired. GAO/RCED-00-84. Washington, 

D.C.: April 5, 2000.

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration: An Overall Strategic Plan and a 

Decision-Making Process Are Needed to Keep the Effort on Track. GAO/

RCED-99-121. Washington, D.C.: April 22, 1999.

Invasive Species:

Invasive Species: Clearer Focus and Greater Commitment Needed to 

Effectively Manage the Problem. GAO-03-01. Washington, D.C.: October 

22, 2002.

Invasive Species: Obstacles Hinder Federal Rapid Response to Growing 

Threat. GAO-01-724. Washington, D.C.: July 24, 2001.

Invasive Species: Federal and Selected State Funding to Address 

Harmful, Nonnative Species. GAO/RCED-00-219. Washington, D.C.: August 

24, 2000.

Managing Indian Trust Responsibilities and Island Communities:

Indian Trust Funds:

Indian Trust Funds: Individual Indian Accounts. GAO-02-970T. 

Washington, D.C.: July 25, 2002.

Indian Trust Funds: Tribal Account Balances. GAO-02-420T. Washington, 

D.C.: February 7, 2002.

Information Security: Weak Controls Place Interior’s Financial and 

Other Data at Risk. GAO-01-615. Washington, D.C.: July 3, 2001.

Indian Trust Funds: Improvements Made to Strengthen Management of New 

Asset and Accounting System but Significant Risks Remain. GAO/AIMD-00-

259. Washington, D.C.: September 15, 2000.

Indian Trust Funds: Challenges Facing Interior’s Implementation of New 

Trust Asset and Accounting Management System. GAO/T-AIMD-99-238. 

Washington, D.C.: July 14, 1999.

Indian Trust Funds: Interior Lacks Assurance That Trust Improvement 

Plan Will Be Effective. GAO/AIMD-99-53. Washington, D.C.: April 28, 


Indian Trust Funds: Status of Department of the Interior’s Plan for 

Improving Trust Fund Management. GAO/AIMD-98-169R. Washington, D.C.: 

May 28, 1998.

Financial Management: Recommendations on Indian Trust Fund Strategic 

Plan Proposals. GAO/AIMD-98-37. Washington, D.C.: November 26, 1997.

Indian Self-Determination:

Indian Issues: Improvements Needed in Tribal Recognition Process. GAO-

02-49. Washington, D.C.: November 2, 2001.

Federal Tort Claims Act: Issues Affecting Coverage for Tribal Self-

Determination Contracts. GAO/RCED-00-169. Washington, D.C.: July 5, 


Indian Self-Determination Act: Shortfalls in Indian Contract Support 

Costs Need to Be Addressed. GAO/RCED-99-150. Washington, D.C.: June 30, 


Indian Programs: Tribal Priority Allocations Do Not Target the Neediest 

Tribes. GAO/RCED-98-181. Washington, D.C.: July 17, 1998.

Island Communities:

Compact of Free Association: An Assessment of Current U.S. Proposals to 

Extend Assistance. GAO-02-857T. Washington, D.C.: July 17, 2002.

Foreign Assistance: Effectiveness and Accountability Problems Common in 

U.S. Programs to Assist Two Micronesian Nations. GAO-02-70. Washington, 

D.C.: January 22, 2002.

Foreign Relations: Kwajalein Atoll is the Key U.S. Defense Interest in 

Two Micronesian Nations. GAO-02-119. Washington, D.C.: January 22, 


Compact of Free Association: Negotiations Should Address Aid 

Effectiveness and Accountability and Migrants’ Impact on U.S. Areas. 

GAO-02-270T. Washington, D.C.: December 6, 2001.

Foreign Relations: Migration From Micronesian Nations Has Had 

Significant Impact on Guam, Hawaii, and the Commonwealth of the 

Northern Mariana Islands. GAO-02-40. Washington, D.C.: October 5, 2001.

Foreign Assistance: Lessons Learned From Donors’ Experiences in the 

Pacific Region. GAO-01-808. Washington, D.C.: August 17, 2001.

Foreign Assistance: U.S. Funds to Two Micronesian Nations Had Little 

Impact on Economic Development. GAO/NSIAD-00-216. Washington, D.C.: 

September 22, 2000.

Foreign Relations: Better Accountability Needed Over U.S. Assistance to 

Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. GAO/RCED-00-67. Washington, D.C.: 

May 31, 2000.

Northern Mariana Islands: Procedures for Processing Aliens and 

Merchandise. GAO/GGD-00-97. Washington, D.C.: May 26, 2000.

Northern Mariana Islands: Garment and Tourist Industries Play a 

Dominant Role in the Commonwealth’s Economy. GAO/RCED/GGD-00-79. 

Washington, D.C.: February 14, 2000.

U.S. Insular Areas: Application of the U.S. Constitution. GAO/OGC-98-5. 

Washington, D.C.: November 7, 1997.

Managing National Parks:

Park Service: Visitor Center Project Costs, Size, and Functions Vary 

Widely. GAO-01-781. Washington, D.C.: July 24, 2001.

Recreation Fees: Management Improvements Can Help the Demonstration 

Program Enhance Visitor Services. GAO-02-10. Washington, D.C.: November 

26, 2001.

Federal Lands: Agencies Need to Assess the Impact of Personal 

Watercraft and Snowmobile Use. GAO/RCED-00-243. Washington, D.C.: 

September 15, 2000.

Park Service: Need to Address Management Problems That Plague the 

Concessions Program. GAO/RCED-00-70. Washington, D.C.: March 31, 2000.

National Park Service: The Condition of Lodging Facilities Varies among 

Selected Parks. GAO/RCED-98-238 Washington, D.C.: August 6, 1998.

National Parks: Park Service Needs Better Information to Preserve and 

Protect Resources. GAO/T-RCED-97-76. Washington, D.C.: February 27, 


Managing Federal Land Transactions and Appraisals:

Land Acquisitions: Agencies Generally Used Similar Standards and 

Appraisal Methodologies in CALFED and CVPIA Transactions. GAO-02-278R. 

Washington, D.C.: January 23, 2002.

BLM and the Forest Service: Federal Taxpayers Could Benefit More From 

Land Sales. GAO-01-882. Washington D.C.: September 10, 2001.

National Park Service: Federal Taxpayers Could Have Benefited More from 

Potomac Yard Land Exchange. GAO-01-292. Washington, D.C.: March 15, 


BLM and the Forest Service: Land Exchanges Need to Reflect Appropriate 

Value and Serve the Public Interest. GAO/RCED-00-73. Washington, D.C.: 

June 22, 2000.

Federal Land Management: Land Acquisition Issues Related to the Baca 

Ranch Appraisal. GAO/RCED-00-76. Washington, D.C.: March 2, 2000.

Fish and Wildlife Service: Agency Needs to Inform Congress of Future 

Costs Associated with Land Acquisitions. GAO/RCED-00-52. Washington, 

D.C.: February 15, 2000.

Federal Land Management: Appraisal of Headwaters Forest Properties. 

GAO/RCED-99-52. Washington, D.C.: December 24, 1998.

Federal Land Management: Appraisal of Crown Butte Mines’ New World 

Property. GAO/RCED-98-209. Washington, D.C.: May 29, 1998.

Deferred Maintenance Backlog:

National Park Service: Status of Efforts to Develop Better Deferred 

Maintenance Data. GAO-02-568R. Washington, D.C.: April 12, 2002.

BIA and DOD Schools: Student Achievement and Other Characteristics 

Often Differ from Public Schools. GAO-01-934. Washington, D.C.: 

September 28, 2001.

Park Service: Agency Is Not Meeting Its Structural Fire Safety 

Responsibilities. GAO/T-RCED-00-253. Washington, D.C.: July 19, 2000.

Park Service: Agency Is Not Meeting Its Structural Fire Safety 

Responsibilities. GAO/RCED-00-154. Washington, D.C.: May 22, 2000.

National Park Service: Efforts to Identify and Manage the Maintenance 

Backlog. GAO/RCED-98-143. Washington, D.C.: May 14,1998.

School Facilities: Reported Condition and Costs to Repair Schools 

Funded by Bureau of Indian Affairs. GAO/HEHS-98-47. Washington, D.C.: 

December 31, 1997.

Internal Controls over Financial Reporting:

Financial Reporting:

Bureau of Reclamation: Opportunities Exist to Improve Managerial Cost 

Information and Cost Recovery. GAO-02-973. Washington, D.C.: September 

20, 2002.

Indian Trust Funds: Individual Indian Accounts. GAO-02-970T. 

Washington, D.C.: July 25, 2002.

Indian Trust Funds: Tribal Account Balances. GAO-02-420T. Washington, 

D.C.: February 7, 2002.

Civil Fines and Penalties Debt: Review of OSM’s Management and 

Collection Processes. GAO-02-211. Washington, D.C.: December 31, 2001.

Bureau of Reclamation: Water Marketing Activities and Costs at the 

Central Valley Project. GAO-01-553. Washington, D.C.: May 4, 2001. :

Bureau of Land Management: Improper Charges Made to Mining Law 

Administration Program. GAO-01-356. Washington, D.C.: March 8, 2001. :

Indian Trust Funds: Improvements Made in Acquisition of New Asset and 

Accounting System But Significant Risks Remain. AIMD-00-259. 

Washington, D.C.: September 15, 2000.

Financial Management Review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 

Reported Allocation of Resources for its Refuge Program and New 

Assistant Regional Manager Positions. AIMD-00-84R. Washington, D.C.: 

February 15, 2000. :

Financial Management: Bureau of Reclamation Sources and Uses of Funds. 

AIMD-99-200R. Washington, D.C.: May 26, 1999. :

Security of information:

Critical Infrastructure Protection: Significant Challenges Need to Be 

Addressed. GAO-02-961T. Washington, D.C.: July 24, 2002.

Information Security: Additional Actions Needed to Implement Reform 

Legislation. GAO-02-470T. Washington, D.C.: March 6, 2002.

Computer Security: Improvements Needed to Reduce Risk to Critical 

Federal Operations and Assets. GAO-02-231T. Washington, D.C.: November 

9, 2001.

Information Security: Weak Controls Place Interior’s Financial and 

Other Data at Risk. GAO-01-615. Washington, D.C.: July 3, 2001.

[End of section]

Performance and Accountability and High-Risk Series:

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: A Governmentwide 

Perspective. GAO-03-95.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of 

Agriculture. GAO-03-96.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Commerce. 


Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Defense. 


Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Education. 


Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Energy. 


Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Health and 

Human Services. GAO-03-101.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Homeland 

Security. GAO-03-102.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Housing 

and Urban Development. GAO-03-103.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of the 

Interior. GAO-03-104.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Justice. 


Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Labor. 


Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of State. 


Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of 

Transportation. GAO-03-108.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of the 

Treasury. GAO-03-109.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Veterans 

Affairs. GAO-03-110.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: U.S. Agency for 

International Development. GAO-03-111.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Environmental Protection 

Agency. GAO-03-112.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Federal Emergency 

Management Agency. GAO-03-113.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: National Aeronautics and 

Space Administration. GAO-03-114.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Office of Personnel 

Management. GAO-03-115.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Small Business 

Administration. GAO-03-116.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Social Security 

Administration. GAO-03-117.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: U.S. Postal Service. 


High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-03-119.

High-Risk Series: Strategic Human Capital Management. GAO-03-120.

High-Risk Series: Protecting Information Systems Supporting the Federal 

Government and the Nation’s Critical Infrastructures. 


High-Risk Series: Federal Real Property. GAO-03-122.


[1] U.S. General Accounting Office, Major Management Challenges and 

Program Risks: Department of the Interior, GAO-01-249 (Washington, 

D.C.: Jan. 2001).

[2] U..S. General Accounting Office, Severe Wildland Fires: Leadership 

and Accountability Needed to Reduce Risks to Communities and Resources, 

GAO-02-259 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31, 2002) and U.S. General 

Accounting Office, Wildland Fire Management: Improved Planning Will 

Help Agencies Better Identify Fire-Fighting Preparedness Needs, GAO-02-

158 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 29, 2002).

[3] GAO-02-259.

[4] GAO-02-259.

[5] GAO-02-259. 

[6] GAO-02-158.

[7] U.S. General Accounting Office, South Florida Ecosystem 

Restoration: An Overall Strategic Plan and a Decision-Making Process 

Are Needed to Keep the Effort on Track, GAO/RCED-99-121 (Washington, 

D.C.: Apr. 22, 1999).

[8] U.S. General Accounting Office, South Florida Ecosystem 

Restoration: Substantial Progress Made in Developing a Strategic Plan, 

but Actions Still Needed, GAO-01-361 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 27, 2001). 

[9] U.S. General Accounting Office, Invasive Species: Obstacles Hinder 

Federal Rapid Response to Growing Threat, GAO-01-724 (Washington, D.C.: 

July 24, 2001).

[10] U.S. General Accounting Office, Invasive Species: Clearer Focus 

and Greater Commitment Needed to Effectively Manage the Problem, GAO-

03-01 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 22, 2002). 

[11] U.S. General Accounting Office, Indian Trust Funds: Improvements 

Made to Strengthen Management of New Asset and Accounting System but 

Significant Risks Remain, GAO/AIMD-00-259 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 15, 


[12] Department of the Interior, Report to Congress on the Historical 

Accounting of Individual Indian Money Accounts (Washington D.C.: July 

2, 2002).

[13] U.S. General Accounting Office, Indian Trust Funds: Individual 

Indian Accounts, GAO-02-970T (Washington, D.C.: July 25, 2002).

[14] U.S. General Accounting Office, Indian Issues: Improvements Needed 

in Tribal Recognition Process, GAO-02-49 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 2, 


[15] U.S. General Accounting Office, Indian Programs: Tribal Priority 

Allocations Do Not Target the Neediest Tribes, GAO/RCED-98-181 

(Washington, D.C.: July 17, 1998).

[16] U.S. General Accounting Office, Indian Self-Determination Act: 

Shortfalls in Indian Contract Support Costs Need to Be Addressed, GAO/

RCED-99-150 (Washington, D.C.: June 30, 1999).

[17] U.S. General Accounting Office, Foreign Assistance: Effectiveness 

and Accountability Problems Common in U.S. Programs to Assist Two 

Micronesian Nations, GAO-02-70 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 22, 2002).

[18] U.S. General Accounting Office, Park Service: Need to Address 

Management Problems That Plague the Concessions Program, GAO/RCED-00-70 

(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 31, 2000).

[19] U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Inspector General, 

Land Exchanges and Acquisitions, Bureau of Land Management, Utah State 

Office, Report No. 2001-I-413 (Washington, D.C.: July 2001).

[20] U.S. General Accounting Office, National Park Service: Federal 

Taxpayers Could Have Benefited More From Potomac Yard Land Exchange, 

GAO-01-292 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 15, 2001).

[21] U.S. General Accounting Office, BLM and The Forest Service: Land 

Exchanges Need to Reflect Appropriate Value and Serve the Public 

Interest, GAO/RCED-00-73 (Washington, D.C.: June 22, 2000).

[22] U.S. General Accounting Office, Park Service: Agency Is Not 

Meeting Its Structural Fire Safety Responsibilities, GAO/RCED-00-154 

(Washington, D.C.: May 22, 2000).

[23] Department of the Interior, Annual Departmental Report on 

Accountability, Fiscal Year 2001 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 27, 2002).

[24] GAO/RCED-00-154 and U.S. General Accounting Office, Park Service: 

Agency Is Not Meeting Its Structural Fire Safety Responsibilities, GAO/

T-RCED-00-253 (Washington, D.C.: July 19, 2000).

[25] U.S. General Accounting Office, School Facilities: Reported 

Condition and Costs to Repair Schools Funded by Bureau of Indian 

Affairs, GAO/HEHS-98-47 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 31, 1997).

[26] U.S. General Accounting Office, BIA and DOD Schools: Student 

Achievement and Other Characteristics Often Differ from Public 

Schools’, GAO-01-934 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 28, 2001).

[27] See Independent Auditors’ Report on the U.S. Department of the 

Interior Fiscal Year 2001 Annual Departmental Report on Accountability, 

No. 2002-I-0018 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 27, 2002).

[28] Material weaknesses are reportable conditions in which the design 

or operation of one or more of the internal control components does not 

reduce to a relatively low level the risk that misstatements caused by 

error or fraud in amounts that would be material in relation to the 

financial statements being audited may occur and not be detected within 

a timely period by employees in the normal course of performing their 

assigned functions.

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