Justice and Law Enforcement:

Research Equipment in the Bureau of Mines

EMD-82-116: Published: Aug 31, 1982. Publicly Released: Aug 31, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the Bureau of Mines management of its laboratory research equipment and office furniture. In 1979, the Department of the Interior's Office of the Inspector General reported that the Bureau was seriously deficient in its control of capitalized property. The review dealt primarily with equipment utilization and focused on those conditions which prevent proper control, adequate safeguarding, and maximum usage of all research equipment.

GAO found that, although property control appears to have improved in the Bureau over the past several years, many laboratories do not give property management high priority when allocating responsibilities to limited support staff. None of the laboratories reviewed had implemented Federal regulations concerning idle and unneeded laboratory and research equipment. As a result, equipment was purchased at one laboratory when equipment stored at another site could have been used. Equipment loans to universities and other non-Federal research groups for purposes other than grant- or contract-related work are made on an open-ended or long-term basis. Some of these loans are not documented. GAO found that the Bureau has no agencywide policies or procedures specifying when such loans are appropriate, the maximum length of such loans, or who should authorize and monitor them. Some property has not been adequately protected against deterioration and destruction, and some condition codes assigned to excess and scrap equipment are inaccurate. As a result, Bureau laboratories suffer reduced availability of equipment and may be making some equipment purchases unnecessarily.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Bureau of Mines to ensure that its property management officials: (1) establish formal procedures to implement 41 C.F.R. 101-25.109, requiring inspection tours and establishment of equipment pools where appropriate; and (2) establish formal Bureau procedures, in conjunction with implementation of 41 C.F.R. 101-25.109, for circulating Bureau-wide lists of underused and idle equipment available for loan or transfer.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct that the Inspector General conduct periodic independent reviews of laboratories' compliance with the inspection tour provisions of 41 C.F.R. 101-25.109.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Bureau of Mines to ensure that laboratory property management personnel have updated criteria for classifying the condition of unneeded equipment reported to the General Services Administration, and obtain adequate technical input and cost data to make proper classification decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Bureau of Mines to ensure that laboratories take necessary steps protect idle equipment from unauthorized removal or cannibalization and from deterioration due to weather while being stored.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Bureau of Mines to ensure that its property management officials establish formal policies and procedures for justifying and documenting short-term loans of temporarily idle equipment to non-Federal entities.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Bureau of Mines ensure to laboratories regain physical control of all equipment loaned for nongrant or noncontract uses, determine their need for such equipment, and where appropriate, report it as excess to their needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Bureau of Mines to provide the needed management attention aimed at proper control, adequate safeguarding, and maximum use of equipment in managing Bureau programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Bureau of Mines to ensure that an accountable staff person(s) with adequate time for thorough attention to property management is designated at each Bureau laboratory.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should require the Bureau of Mines to ensure that laboratories cease making long-term equipment loans to non-Federal entities for uses which are not authorized under a Bureau grant or contract.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Mines

 

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