The OMB Influence in Redesigning the Interior Department's Offshore Leasing and Development Program

EMD-82-93: Published: Jun 11, 1982. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Interior Department's proposed plan to accelerate offshore hydrocarbon leasing and development to determine the influence of non-Interior agencies in the development of the administration's program.

The GAO review disclosed no evidence indicating that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had a substantial influence over the Interior redesign of the leasing program. The newly elected administration's campaign promise to accelerate leasing and an Interior task force report on ways to streamline the offshore program were complementary initiatives which apparently led to the decision to revise the program. GAO did not find that the need to generate revenue for the U.S. Treasury was the main force in that decision. However, the revenue impacts of accelerated leasing were considered by OMB and provided to its director for his use in Cabinet-level discussions on the program. The GAO review indicated that there was little contact below the Cabinet level between OMB and Interior during the time the decisions were being made on the accelerated offshore leasing program. There may have been discussions of the need to accelerate leasing at the Cabinet-level meetings during the transition and early days of the Reagan administration; however, based on the campaign pledges of the Reagan administration and the views of the new Interior Secretary, GAO assumed that there would be general agreement between them on the direction of the offshore leasing program.

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