Changes Are Needed To Improve the Management of the Bureau of Land Management's Financial Disclosure System

FPCD-83-16: Published: Oct 18, 1982. Publicly Released: Nov 18, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the adequacy of the financial disclosure system and the regulations on conflicts of interest which are applicable to employees at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The GAO review showed that BLM has not effectively managed its financial disclosure system. Responsibilities have been delegated without providing adequate guidance and training. Staff performing financial disclosure duties often have other, higher priority, responsibilities, and the monitoring of financial reviews does not ensure thorough and consistent reviews. Virtually no one monitors the financial disclosure actions taken by the Assistant Ethics Counselors. Weaknesses in the review process have resulted in: (1) inadequate support to justify approval of financial interests; (2) untimely reviews of disclosure statements; and (3) failure to obtain statements from all headquarters employees whose positions require disclosure statements. GAO questioned BLM approval of 125 interests reported by the employees on their disclosure statements. The files contained inadequate documentation to determine when the employees acquired the financial interests or to support the rationale used in approving these holdings. As a result of the misapplication of the provisions of the Organic Act: (1) some employees may be holding questionable financial interests in public lands; (2) the rationale used in approving employee's financial interests is not adequately documented; (3) reviews of most financial statements are made later than required; and (4) some employees are not filing required disclosure statements.

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 BLM to establish criteria and guidelines for determining the propriety of BLM employees' financial interests.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  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 BLM to require the Deputy Ethics Counselor to monitor the actions of Assistant Ethics Counselors and require them to document the justification for approving financial interests.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  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 BLM to require the Deputy Ethics Counselor to advise Assistant Ethics Counselors and other employees on financial disclosure matters.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  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 BLM to require the Deputy Ethics Counselor to advise the Bureau Ethics Counselor on actions employees should take on potential conflicts and on financial disclosure policy matters.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  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 BLM to require the Deputy Ethics Counselor to periodically assess the adequacy of resources available for reviewing employee financial interests.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  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 BLM to define the responsibilities for all key BLM positions in the operation and management of the BLM financial disclosure system.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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