Public Lands:

Interior Should Recover the Costs of Recording Mining Claims

RCED-86-217: Published: Sep 10, 1986. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1986.

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GAO reviewed the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) cost-recovery analyses to determine whether it has been recovering the costs associated with recording mining claims.

GAO found that: (1) BLM analyses do not consider many of the costs that the Department of the Interior's cost recovery guidelines specify; and (2) BLM has not performed a new analysis to determine the extent of the unrecovered costs, even though it is aware that its $5 recording fee does not recover program costs. GAO believes that: (1) on the basis of the guidelines, BLM can recover the direct and indirect costs associated with recording mining claims; (2) compliance with Interior's cost recovery policy and guidelines could have increased fee collections by up to $1.7 million in fiscal year 1984; and (3) BLM could realize comparable savings in the future if it followed the guidelines for determining recoverable costs associated with recording mining claims.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Interior completed its cost recovery analysis, as GAO recommended. The analysis shows that the fee should be raised to $7.50 to cover current costs and recommends that it be raised to $10 per mining claim to allow for future program cost fluctuations resulting in an annual savings of between $268,000 and $552,000.

    Recommendation: Before increasing the mining claim recording fee, the Secretary of the Interior should direct that a new cost recovery analysis be undertaken for the BLM mining claim recording program. This analysis should use Interior's departmental manual as the criterion for determining all appropriate costs, both direct and indirect, that are incurred in recording mining claims and that can legally be recovered. If warranted, the fee should be adjusted, on the basis of Interior's analysis, to bring it into compliance with administration and departmental policy to recover Interior's costs of recording mining claims.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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