Program To Transfer Land Between the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service Has Stalled

RCED-85-21: Published: Dec 27, 1984. Publicly Released: Dec 27, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) and the Forest Service's implemention of the Jurisdictional Land Transfer Program, which was established in 1980 to identify and evaluate opportunities to transfer the two agencies' land management responsibilities and develop proposed legislation to effect such transfers.

GAO found that BLM and the Forest Service did not meet the milestone dates which they had established for developing the first legislative proposal. In addition, joint field work on the program was suspended in January 1983 because: (1) the two agency heads could not agree on the size and scope of potential land transfers to be included in the legislative proposals; and (2) the agencies' field staffs, who were responsible for identifying transfer opportunities and developing potential transfer proposals, frequently did not follow the jointly issued program guidelines. Furthermore, statewide land pattern goals were not established in four of the five states studied because of a lack of resources, a lack of communication with agency heads, and a lack of coordination between field staffs and their failure to establish a specific goal. Between 1982 and 1983, the agencies' efforts to comply with an administration initiative to identify and sell unneeded federal land also hindered program progress. Finally, GAO found that some field staffs did not consider transfers that would result in the closing of offices or personnel reductions and relocations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service and BLM have decided to do a one-shot interchange. They have agreed on its size, scope, and post-implementation boundaries. Maps have been drawn and public hearings were held. Legislative packages were submitted to Congress.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should resolve the disagreement over the size and scope of potential land transfers so that the Jurisdictional Land Transfer Program can be resumed and legislative proposals can be made.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service and BLM have decided to do a one-shot interchange. They have agreed on its size, scope, and post-implementation boundaries. Maps have been drawn and public hearings were held. Legislative packages were submitted to Congress.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should resolve the disagreement over the size and scope of potential land transfers so that the Jurisdictional Land Transfer Program can be resumed and legislative proposals can be made.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Legislation to restart the interchange was introduced to the House and Senate in March and April 1986, but Congress failed to act on the legislation before it adjourned in October 1986. The agencies have directed field staff to follow program guidelines.

    Recommendation: Once the Jurisdictional Land Transfer Program has been resumed, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director, BLM, to instruct their field staffs to adhere to the program guidelines.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Legislation to restart the interchange was introduced in the House and Senate in March 1986, but Congress failed to act on the legislation before it adjourned in October 1986. The agencies have directed field staff to follow guidelines.

    Recommendation: Once the Jurisdictional Land Transfer Program has been resumed, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director, BLM, to instruct their field staffs to adhere to the program guidelines.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agencies issued guidelines to monitor program progress and to ensure that field staff follow program guidelines; however, Congress failed to act on legislation before it adjourned in October 1986.

    Recommendation: Once the program has been resumed, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director, BLM, to monitor the program's progress to make sure that the guidelines are followed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agencies issued guidelines to monitor program progress and to ensure that field staff follow program guidelines; however, Congress failed to act on the legislation before it adjourned in October 1986.

    Recommendation: Once the program has been resumed, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director, BLM, to monitor the program's progress to make sure that the guidelines are followed.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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